I do have to ask about the Argos, because the CFL seems constantly in trouble. Is there a solution to the league’s challenges?
Yeah, I thought so, and I was working on it, but I’m not sure there’s alignment among [some of] the other ownership groups of the other eight teams. The community-owned teams seem to be satisfied with what’s happening in the CFL, so we’re working to see how the Argos fit into that scenario. I’m not happy with it. I’m not happy with the structure of the league. My concern is, in the major cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, it’s not attracted the younger fan engagement. You look at value creation and, you know, quite unfortunately, these teams are not worth that much money. The hockey, basketball or soccer teams are trading at hundreds of millions of dollars, in some cases billions of dollars. And you see the Argos, you know, a 106-year-old league, and what value creation are these franchises trading at? You’ve got to look at that and say, Is that success?
Would like to see the rest of the interview if he elaborated further but it does seem like he's referring to the XFL talks from last year.
My understanding is the community owned teams we're not on board especially Edmonton who were very vocal when the talks ended. Montreal was intrigued too and to a lesser degree Calgary. Not sure about BC as they were sold after talks ended.
When there were talks between the XFL and CFL, Dave Naylor noted that the value of CFL franchises did not increase like in other leagues. Naylor also pointed out that except for one season, the Argos had lost money for every year for the past 30.
Wow throwing the CFL under the bus there. If MLSE throws the towel in, is that the end of the Argos? Gotta say, I was expecting the typical PR non answer you'd get from the Commissioner, but Tanenbaum really aired his frustrations out with no filter.
Is he wrong? NO, the league isn't growing, its fan base shrinking and expect that the CFL will lose some teams should the XFL show to be successful launching its product.
But what investment has that nasty billionaire ever made in the CFL? NONE, in fact he's constantly tried to harm the team and the league. With all the means at his disposal, he could have been a difference maker.
Why would it be the end of the Argos? They would just switch leagues - we all talk about the CFL having been around for 100+ years as a monolithic structure but the CFL has been around 1956 when the IRFU and WIFU formed the Canadian Football Council which later became the CFL - CFL teams have been around for 100+ years but the CFL as currently constructed has been around since 1958.
I don't know what the CFL Charter looks like but I am betting that the Legal Staff at MSLE probably has an exit strategy already mapped out. MLSE has way more money than the league does - if it came to an unpleasant exit.
I would not be shocked if the XFL deal with Disney/ESPN doesn't have provisions for adding Argos, MTL, Stamps and the Leos.
Also Tanenbaum is the chairman of the board of the NBA - this guy doesn't see a border when it comes to making money. Raptors are the only NBA team on Canadian soil. He has one of three MLS teams on Canadian soil as well as having the Leafs which get a big chunk of their money from the USA. If anything from his point of view the USA is where the money is at in regard to TV Money and the only way to get there is with a merger to the XFL.
"Success" in the business world and pro sports is just that in a large part, is about making money and increase of value for the franchise and business. I get that actually. Any business, including the CFL, isn't a social service agency to exist to keep people happy or some government institution that can just survive on tax payers money. Again, I get that. And the CFL people know this as well, the league will have to make some very tough decisions in order to survive, thrive and continue to be relevant in a very challenging pro sports market.
Agree with everything you said. Also the CFL gets $50 Million cdn from the TV deal - divided 10 ways that is 5 million cdn per team and the league gets a slice. What is the dollar amount that an entity would have to pay the Als, Argos, Stamps and Lions to jump ship? $10 million cdn? Pretty sure if those teams could make $15 million cdn from a USA TV deal it would be all over but the crying.
In my opinion the merger talks were put on the back burner last year because the XFL needed 1) to make it through a season 2) get a USA TV deal before a merger could take place. 3) the CFL didn't want to spend the next two years fighting an insurgency with the fans.
The 2nd one happened there is now a TV deal in place. The CFL was able to somewhat placate the fans. All that needs to happen now is to have the XFL make it through a season and the merger will be back on. I also think that a CXFL fits in well with Disney/ESPN and their ability to buy content. I don't think that ESPN is going to have an unlimited budget for sports broadcast rights going forward.
It is not about what the XFL is now it is what the CXFL will be in ten years or 20 years. The sports media landscape is changing just like everything else associated with median and entertainment. 10 years ago there was no Disney+ or Paramount. 15 years ago Netflix was mailing out DVDs.
The only thing stable about Tennenbaum is he has a ton of other people's money (and some of his own to be honest) to toss around. He (MLSE) purchased the Argos knowing a 106 yr old football team did NOT have adequate fan engagement with those under 30, maybe even 40. He knew the crowds were paltry, muchly papered and not worth having cameras turn away from the field to show empties in the grandstand.
Knowing all this Mr. T still purchased it. Why? Well, when you control all major sports in one geographic area you don't want competitors. You abhor competitors. He also thought it was a good public service to keep the heart of the CFL beating - while the CFL does not have a money-maker in the Argos (usually a vast money loser) the league doesn't want to lose the vast Toronto media centre. After so many failures and dubious owners in the last quarter century (or more) did Mr. T expect he would fare better?
I doubt it. The other reason he punched the Argos ticket was to supposedly place himself (and MLSE) at the top of the skinflint list to bring in an NFL team - should that time and place arrive (lots of factors, too much to go into in this post)
Mr. T should be happy with the 10,000 to 12,500 fans who show up for Argo games on a regular basis now. Yes, the pro soccer team is prolly worth hundreds of Millions and the Leafs are easily worth over a billion, perhaps 2 billion. The baseball team playing out of a tin can stadium is still worth at least a billion. Their CFL poor sister is a debt-ridden outfit not fit for human purchase.
I think if Mr. T can somehow create an environment to bring in crowds of 15,000 to 18,000 on a regular basis Combined with the requisite merchandise, parking, concessions and advertising possibilities the team could actually pay all its bills and have a few shekkels left in the bank after all is said 'n done!
Everyone talks about single game betting going to save the CFL - I think from the CXFL/MLSE/Redbird perspective it is betting in the USA that will bring in the money - for a degenerate gambler what is there to bet on once the Superbowl is over? NBA regular season? MLB, NCAA basketball? MLS? NHL? Part of the allure of the NFL and College football is that it is easy to bet on and you only have one game a week, and all those games mean something. From February to start of September there is no football to bet on a but a 20 team CXFL broadcast on ESPN and ABC from spring to September fills that void. A 20 team CXFL has 10 games a week - which should give a broadcaster a pretty solid lineup of games. It also gives Vegas and the online betting entities material to bet on. If ESPN is pushing the CXFL with the propaganda machine the betting money and viewership would hypothetically be there.
Obviously people are going to believe that the community teams are currently against change based on the interview. I think the key will be what will the XFL's ratings be in Canada? If they are equal to the CFL's level or surpass it TSN might throw some money around which might change a few minds. We won't know until a year from now what way the wind is blowing.