HAMILTON (CP) - For a change, CFL commissioner Tom Wright and the league's board of governors were able to look ahead to the future and not deal with an immediate crisis.
Wright and the board met Friday, discussing a myriad of subjects that included the dividends of the CFL's investment in its officiating, the use of instant replay for 2006 and the league's continued commitment to continue exploring adding a 10th franchise by the turn of the decade.
''The best part is the time was spent talking about the future and not just 2006 but also the next decade,'' Wright said. ''In the past with our league, we've spent time looking at the past.''
The meeting was Wright's first sit-down session with board members since July when he accepted their offer of a one-year contract extension to end an ugly two months of speculation regarding whether Wright would remain with the league. Back in May, board members gathered via conference call to discuss Wright's future while he was vacationing in France.
Wright wanted a two-year extension but could only get six of the required seven board members to support him. But enough governors favoured a one-year extension with the same conditions of Wright's existing contract, including no increase to his reported $400,000 annual salary.
''I've always said we'd be moving forward,'' Wright said. ''We've put forth an aggressive business agenda and we've got a business to run and that's what I'm focused on doing.''
Wright said the CFL will continue to look at adding a 10th franchise by 2010. He added the league remains open regarding what city the new team would be located in, be it Halifax, Moncton or even Quebec City.
''The key is that this be done right and we
ve always said that were not going to do it unless it can be done so,'' he said.
Last year during his Grey Cup address, Wright announced the CFL was tripling its investment in its officiating. Wright said 11 new officials have been added this season and that league personnel have seen a marked improvement in how on-field officials have handled games so far.
''We believe it has improved demonstratively,'' he said. ''We think the quality of our calls have increased and yet there has been a 20 per cent reduction in the number of penalties called in games.''
Still, the subject of instant replay remains on the table for CFL governors. Wright said the league's business model for next season includes replay, with a final presentation to be made to governors in January. If the board members vote in favour, then instant replay will be adopted in time for the 2006 season.
As for this year, Wright said attendance is up five per cent across the league, with B.C. (26 per cent increase), Toronto (19 per cent) and Calgary (11 per cent) leading the way. The commissioner also added television ratings are up 33 per cent at TSN (and 48 per cent in the male 19-to-49 demographic) and nine per cent at CBC, an amazing feat considering CBC has broadcast games without the use of commentators as a result of a labour lockout.
As well, Wright said CFL games are being broadcast in 75 million more households abroad this year compared to 2004.
he also said "Drumming_god tells me how to run this league!"