Top 9 Cities For CFL Expansion According to Media Pundits
Here are the top cities that could support a CFL expansion team the Rand Ambrose, the Commissioner, has been contemplating along with other CFL executives.
1 - Moncton
In the National Post, Moncton mayor Dawn Arnold said her city is all-in on an initiative to secure a Canadian Football League franchise in Atlantic Canada.
She huddled with CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie and Maritime Football Ltd. lead investor Anthony LeBlanc for an hour on Wednesday and came away full of hope for Moncton’s participation in the process that proponents hope will deliver a 10th CFL team to Halifax in the near future.
“I think their takeaway was that Moncton is entering a whole new era as far as a city, its capabilities and what is possible here,” Arnold said. “They loved our stadium. They were tossing around ideas and possibilities — if we were possibly to have the league here for a couple of years before Halifax is ready, possibly have some pre-season games, possibly have a training (camp) here. Everything is on the table.”
Seating at Moncton Stadium can be expanded to almost 21,000 and the venue has hosted three CFL regular-season games. Two were sellouts, the third attracted just 15,123 to watch Hamilton and Montreal.
2 - Halifax
Maritime Football Limited wants to bring a franchise to Halifax and build a 24,000-seat stadium that would also be used for high school and university sports, concerts, music festivals and community events. The stadium would be part of a development that would also feature housing, office and retail space.
The group that wants to bring the Canadian Football League to Halifax has narrowed its search for a stadium location to two sites.
The Halifax Chronicle Herald elaborates that the likely stadium sites are Dartmouth Crossing and a property behind the Kent store in Bayers Lake business park.
The Canadian Press reports that if all goes to plan, the CFL's Atlantic Schooners will begin play in 2020 in Moncton, N.B., while a new stadium is being built in Halifax. If or when do you think the CFL group seeking to secure a stadium in Halifax will get one?
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The question of funding for the stadium, which would seat about 25,000 people and likely cost in excess of $200 million to build, remains a bigger riddle than a potential site.
But, 3downnation.com comments that, "With a population of over 400,000, Halifax is big enough but also lacks a CFL-calibre stadium. The local university team at St. Mary’s plays in a facility with just 4,000 permanent seats (expandable to 11,000) and that clearly won’t do it."
3 - Quebec City
For starters Thelastwordonsports.com affirms, Quebec City the biggest unserved media market in the country with no CFL representation and has a bigger population base of 806,400 per Wikipedia’s estimate in 2015 than Winnipeg (736,400 per that city’s latest forecast for 2017) representing the eighth largest TV market in Canada ahead of current CFL markets Winnipeg, Hamilton and Regina. And it’s smack dab in the middle of four million francophone Quebeckers who make up rural Quebec and would now have its own team to follow.
League revenues are becoming more and more tied to broadcast revenues than ever before. In order to make expansion make sense, you need to grow the pie by at least ten percent to convince league governors to split it 10 ways instead of nine. That’s a big pool of untapped viewers right there. And then there’s the rivalry it would create with Les Alouettes.
Local university powerhouse Laval Rouge et Or have shown the ability to regularly draw more than 13,000 fans. This is a remarkable feat when you consider their home stadium seats only 12,750. You’ll never convince this three-down junkie that a CFL team wouldn’t draw a whole lot more than that.
4 - Windsor
According to a writer in Windsor Square, "Chasing a CFL franchise would cost much less than FINA 2025. It might hardly cost taxpayers anything. Without question, it could deliver considerable and tangible benefits for almost a whole year, and not just days."
"Building an appropriate multi-use football stadium would probably cost a fraction of what mayor Drew Dilkens is expected to spend on FINA, and could add an impressive real sports asset to a region with few good ones."
This writer then stipulates, "It is no pipe dream. Here are some facts."
"The city could probably get away with a 10,000 to 20,000 seat stadium. The Toronto Argonauts home game of July 14 had only 12,373 in attendance."
Regina is building a 33,000 seat facility for less than $300 million with only $73 million from the city’s taxpayers. It will be the home of a wide range of events and will have 33 private suites.
Regina has a population of 193,100, about half of the Windsor and Essex County combined population. But, Windsor has an advantage called Detroit.
This writer in the Windor Square then comments on Windor's proximity to Detroit.
"There are Americans who love the CFL and will be in attendance at the Grey Cup. Actually, the CFL could arrest the declining interest in the NFL. This is based on speculation by National Post sports writer Bill Lankhof."
5 - London, Ontario
In an online debate on Reddit, the advantages of London were also pointed out.
Located in the southwestern Ontario and founded on the Thames river, surrounded by the fertile farming land of southern Ontario. This bustling metropolis lies roughly halfway between the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Detroit. The vast majority of the city is sprawling cul de sacs, which continue to expand outward into the surrounding farmland. The economy is based primarily on education, medical research, insurance, and information technology.
Nestled alongside the scenic Thames river TD Stadium is an 8,000 seat stadium with a track around the outside, located on the Western University campus. It was constructed in the year 2000 at a cost of only $10.5 million dollars. The turf was replaced in 2007 for around $1 million dollars. The good news is that the stadium is surrounded by lots of greenspace, which means the structure can easily be renovated and expanded drastically. Currently the stadium will flex its capacity up to 16,000 for special occasions.
The University of Western Ontario has been one of the powerhouses of Ontario college football for decades now. The London Beefeaters are a CJFL team that has been in operation since 1975 and won the national title in 2012.
Currently London has the 11th largest metro population in the nation, more than double that of Regina’s. It's not at all unrealistic to think that London’s population could boom in the coming decades given its relative proximity to the GTA and also the US border: It's effectively located halfway between Toronto and Detroit. At present the lack of density in the city is certainly a reason for concern.
Media and Competition:
There are a number of minor teams, but the London Knights (OHL) are as big as it gets in right now. This market is largely untapped.
TD Stadium hosted a pre-season game in 2002 between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats which was a sellout at 9,178 fans.
6 - Waterloo
Waterloo has also been described as a contender.
In the local newspaper in was pointed on that the Waterloo Region theoretically could support a Canadian Football League team, but the chances of this area landing a franchise are slim, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.
The board lists Waterloo Region among six Canadian cities that have the necessary economic conditions to make a CFL team potentially viable, in a report released.
“Our market analysis indicates that there is room for more than eight teams in the Canadian Football League,” Glen Hodgson, the board’s chief economist, and Mario Lefebvre, director of the board’s Centre for Municipal Studies, say in the latest report in the board’s Playing in the Big Leagues series.
7 - Victoria
In Reddit, Victoria has been also considered a CFL expansion contender.
Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, off the western coast of Canada. One of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest. As such the city has many historical buildings which provide a source of tourism to an already picturesque cityscape. Victoria is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in the world.
It is worth mentioning that the city of Nanaimo (population 105,000) is located about 1.5 hours north of Victoria up the east coast of Vancouver Island, directly opposite the city of Vancouver across the Strait of Georgia.
Strait of Juan de Fuca & Puget Sound region
Unlike most candidates in this series Victoria actually has a number of small-scale stadiums to consider.
Goudy Field & Westhills Stadium
Goudy Field and Westhill Stadium are right next to each other (I am not sure which one is which) and are located in Langford B.C., basically a suburb of Greater Victoria. The both have permanent capacity for around 1,500 patrons. Neither of these stadiums have sufficent parking, or potential for expansion given their proximity to roads and residences.
Centennial Stadium was constructed in 1966, is located on the campus of the University of Victoria and has 5,000 seats. Compared to most stadiums we look at Centennial has quite a bit of room for expansion, albeit at the expense of two soccer fields (one of them turf).
Royal Athletic Park
Royal Athletic Park is very close to downtown Victoria and is a natural grass surface that has 3,800 permanent seats, but can flex up to 10,000. It first opened in the early 1900’s and was renovated/rebuilt in 1967. Royal Athletic can't really be expanded.
Vancouver B.C. is a 3 hour drive away, which includes a 1.5 hour ferry across the Strait of Georgia. And the ferry doesn’t even take you into downtown Vancouver, so you’d have to bring a car across on the ferry or else bus once you land. It's safe to say a Victoria team wouldn’t noticeably cut into the home game attendance numbers, however. Another positive would be a strong rivalry boost to a floundering Lions franchise. (credit: /u/KamikazeCanuck)
The Westshore Rebels (CJFL) have been mostly based out of Victoria BC since the early 1970’s. The city of Nanaimo could be reasonably expected to contribute at least in part to the success of a franchise in Victoria. The Vancouver Island Raiders (CJFL) have been based out of Nanaimo since 2005 and have already won the BC Conference 7 times and the National title 3 times. All this to be said, the Vancouver Island has strong football roots.
Media and Competition:
Would be dangerously close to a very fickle BC Lions fan-base, and more importantly the Seattle Seahawks which so long as they remain successful will continue to garner significant attention north of the border.
8 - Mississauga
The Reddit author pointed out that there's no stadiums in Mississauga but he also described the city as providing great advantages.
"I know it doesn’t need repeating, but the Greater Toronto Area is massive. With a population of over 6 million people. It also doesn't need repeating how indifferent the GTA has been to the CFL in the past couple decades."
"A rival franchise in Mississauga could be a big help to the floundering Argos franchise. I would contend that a Mississauga team could greatly improve GTA's interest in the CFL by creating a rivalry with the Argos. I wouldn’t buy the narrative that a Mississauga team would take away fans from the Argos, there are millions of fans to go around, that is not the issue."
9 - Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls doesn't have any viable stadium. Viability would rely on attracting U.S. fan base in western New York.