Senator Campbell is bang on: NFL bad for Canada
Threat to CFL is genuine as Bills test waters in Toronto
David Pratt, For Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Don't listen to me. Listen to him. ...In the next few weeks, Senator Larry Campbell will draft a bill to protect Canada from the NFL.
The threat is real and, yes, this is a fight worth fighting.
On Dec. 7, the Buffalo Bills will play the Miami Dolphins in Toronto. It's the first of eight regular-season and exhibition games Ted Rogers will spend $78 million on over the next five years to help fund a much bigger scheme to relocate the Bills to that city by 2013.
The result will be the death of the CFL. One hundred years of Canadian history flushed down the toilet.
"It's time that we just say 'enough,' " Campbell insists, "It doesn't make any sense politically, financially or culturally."
For the past six months, Bob Ackles, president of the B.C Lions, has been ringing the exact same alarm bells: "It would kill the Grey Cup and the CFL."
Ackles has already addressed the issue with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and has been assured of his support. It's easy to understand why.
It cuts right to the heart of national unity and will once again demand Western Canadians to ask the most important question of their time: "Why are we in this marriage?"
"I'd like to see politicians stand up and vote on this," says Campbell about his proposed bill. "I'd like to see somebody from Saskatchewan vote against it."
In the end it all comes down to money.
The Bills have the lowest average ticket price in the NFL and rank in the bottom 25 per cent of all league games in revenue generated; Toronto is the fifth-largest market in North America, with fans willing to pay $250 a ticket.
So if Rogers is willing to spend $1 billion of his own money to buy an NFL team, who's going to stop him? The NFL.
Toronto does not have a stadium that even comes close to meeting league standards.
Rogers Centre can hold a mere 53,000 fans for football, well below the minimum requirement of 65,000 and light years from the new stadiums being built in L.A. and Dallas, which will hold between 75,000 and 100,000.
Any attempt to upgrade Rogers Centre would not only be outrageously expensive, but would also leave the Toronto Blue Jays in the parking lot for at least two years.
The only answer is a new stadium, but neither the City of Toronto nor the Province of Ontario is willing to commit any money to such a project.
It leaves Rogers and his partner Larry Tanenbaum with two options: a) write a personal cheque for another $1 billion; or b) knock on the door of the federal government.
Plan B would have taxpayers from all over Canada watching their money spent to kill their own football teams.
"I want a debate on this thing," says Campbell, "I want communities to write their MPs."
Once again, we are reminded that nobody in Toronto really gives a damn who suffers, just as long as they get what they want.
That's not my opinion. It's Senator Larry Campbell's.