TO: CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie (and anyone else with decision-making authority)
The future of the CFL: Areas of concern
CFLPA & CONTRACTS
All comments I will make are based on watching CFL games for well over 60 years, and attending individual games in Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton sites.
All statements may be checked against available statistics. Please do. You have better records than I.
Most categories (Money, Rules, Contracts, etc...) overlap. No category can be considered alone.
I'll start with the most difficult:
- In the '50's (and perhaps early '60's?), individual owners could offer American players salaries then comparable to what was available in the US
- I don't think that has been possible since.
- Money has been leaking out of CFL coffers since having been taken over by TSN (from CBC, as far as the broadcasting aspect is concerned).
- League control is dependant on two primary factors: 1. Money for the players, and 2.All the other money (coaches/stadia/broadcast rights and costs, etc ...)
- If you want a better product, you have to increase #1 and decrease #2.
- Everyone has individual ideas/fixes; unfortunately, each "idea" enriches one group or another, at the eventual expense of the game.
- There seems to be a US-leaning attitude, and I don't know how far it extends. Why a US firm had to be paid to come up with the name 'REDBLACKS' is completely beyond me, when Ottawa fans suggested more appropriate names, free of charge. A simple example.
- IT IS IMPERATIVE that the game be kept as unique as possible - and as different from the US game as possible. There are many reasons:
We cannot - and don't want to - compete with the product being offered in the US
To do otherwise is to create a "bush league, second-rate" version of the NFL
We want fans (whether in Canada, the US, or elsewhere) to watch OUR game based on it's own merits
- THIS IS HUGE: The CFL (3 downs) used to offer HIGHER SCORING GAMES on average vs the NFL (4 downs). Then something happened. THAT needs to be investigated thoroughly. Whether the teams began adopting more "careful" philosophies, hiring coaching staffs pushing those philosophies (either because they believed in them because of their US backgrounds, or found them easier to justify) - I don't know.
But we find ourselves NOW offering an inferior product (NFL ideology with cheaper players). What happened?? Go back to (E.G.) Montreal and Calvillo - that style of offensive play (Montreal still has it, somewhat, but mostly when Adams steps on the field).
FANS (acknowledging that the fan base is different in each area; that it changes over the years; that consumption is via TV, smartphones, stadia)
- The stadia fans need (see CULTURE) to be viewed differently than those who only watch on TV.
- TV fans need to see packed stadia (that encourages participation - the difference between getting one of few available seats vs sitting with losers)
- each fan (directly or indirectly) needs to be paying: the stadia fan is direct; the tv fan's money should come from the party providing the broadcast (whether on TV or smartphone);
- a fan must have pride; must want to sit outside in the cold of Canadian winter BECAUSE THERE'S NOWHERE ELSE THEY'D RATHER BE
- based on current stadia, fans are sitting outside in every city other than BC. But in what cities might they be enjoying an "inside" event instead?
I'm not worried about Hamilton, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary nor Edmonton. Toronto is a problem. I'm not sure what to make of Montreal and Ottawa (again, see CULTURE)
- We know that a really great Canadian player is going to go for the big bucks being offered in the US.
- We know that a really great American player is going to stay in the US for the big bucks being offered.
- That's why our game is different - and has to be viewed as different.
- AGREE that the CFL MUST stop offering one-year contracts. Teams need to build teams, thus fans. Sell team/player merchandise.
- If anything, increase (don't decrease) the number of Canadian players that each team must carry. A quick glance suggests that Winnipeg has used that particular rule to its advantage (3 Canadian running backs!)
- This is Canada. Players attending colleges (and other Canadian players) must know that there are opportunities to play in a major league here, at home. This increases the fan bases, as well.
- Eliminate IN THE RULES the ability for any team to cheat by starting a Canadian, then replacing him with an American after a quarter, as it is claimed Hamilton did all season. Each team should be forced to show AND USE correct back-ups at each position.
CFLPA & CONTRACTS
- Don't know enough on the topic to comment, other that to be glad that the players have a forum where their concerns can be addressed
- Will repeat, MUST STOP offering one-year contracts!
CULTURE / STADIA (decided to combine these two)
- A close friend pointed out that the stadia in the US have huge parking lots BECAUSE, for many, the tailgating parties are as important (if not more so), than the actual game! It is a social event. It can become a family event. His criticizm is that we don't pay sufficient attention to this aspect of the event in Canada, with the result that the parking lots are insufficient in size. I don't know how true that is, stadium by stadium, but there is little doubt that this may be the greatest single concern for the growth of the fan bases.
- As mentioned under "Fans," a great deal depends on where you live: if you are in Toronto, there may be a choice of nine indoor events (vs an outdoor CFL game in November). This does not bode well for attendance. If you live in Regina, Winnipeg or Hamilton, however, the fan bases in those cities are rabid (which is not to say they aren't in the cities not mentioned).
- Assuming an owner can be confirmed in the Maritimes (Halifax area?), is time not a problem? I would very much like to see the league grow, but wonder if broadcast/attendance times might not be a problem, with a 4-hour time difference between BC and NS. Would we be forced into a situation where fewer East vs West contests occurred during the season? Is that a bad thing (thinking of flight lengths/costs)?
- This (to us outsiders) has just been floated recently. I believe all the foregoing problems have to be addressed before equalization can be discussed rationally. It is an excellent concept, but the individual team situations have to be analyzed carefully. Also, what is to be included/excluded?