Published on April 30, 2008
The 2008 CFL Draft was the most covered in the media in my memory, with media outlets writing about the players, the picks and the trades. The draft also proved interesting, with some last minute trades involving draft picks and some surprises from the predicted course.
Leading up to the draft, the situation of the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Calgary Stampeders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos were examined among others. University of Sherbrooke receiver Samuel Giguère’s draft situation was also summarized in an article on cfl.ca. Before moving on to the actual draft, you may want to brush up on the history of the Canadian Football League College Draft.
To follow the draft, you needed the 2008 draft order, and to know about last minute trades involving draft picks. As expected, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats selected DB Dylan Barker from the University of Saskatchewan as the first pick overall. TSN’s coverage, a first time for a CFL draft, was well received. For those who were not able to follow the draft live, a close look at the picks in the first two rounds and a listing of all players selected in the six round draft might deserve review. An analysis of the picks shows the CIS continues to be a solid resource for the Canadian Football League.
Published on April 29, 2008
The Canadian Football League Canadian College Entry Draft takes place tomorrow, April 30 starting at 12 noon Eastern Time. For the first time, coverage of the first two rounds of the draft can be followed on TSN, where the studio broadcast will welcome CFL commissioner Mark Cohon to announce the selections. Rod Black will be the host with analysis and commentary provided by University of Western Ontario head coach Greg Marshall, Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Brian Towriss, TSN CFL analyst Duane Forde and TSN’s Farhan Lalji. The full 48 picks over six rounds of the draft can be followed live on cfl.ca and tsn.ca.
For a primer on this year’s draft, check out Duane Forde’s coverage on tsn.ca. There are also mock-draft predictions of the first round on cfl.ca. Some reports had Saskatchewan Safety Dylan Barker’s stock falling out of the number one pick, but subsequent reports say there are four teams in the running to acquire the first pick to take Barker. CFL clubs have been in a flurry of activity in the final days before the draft as Canadian player signings in the NFL will affect where some players are taken in the Canadian draft. Picking second overall, Edmonton has their minds made up on who they want to take with their selection.
Despite this draft year being called one of the deepest in a while, the CFL still limits itself with its import/non-import definition to classify Canadian and non-Canadian players, leaving some with Canadian citizenship to compete with import players. It seems that a league trying to portray its Canadian purity would be interested in applying the more national Canadian and import designations to players versus the rather generic import and non-import terms. The spirit of the rule should be to provide opportunity to Canadian players, and a player with Canadian citizenship who played high school football in Canada should be Canadian, even if he played football in the US as a second-grader. This is another item that commissioner Cohon should look at addressing and correcting in a way satisfactory to all.
Published on April 28, 2008
The CFL announced today the results of the league’s 2007 Salary Management System audit on all clubs. Six of eight clubs adhered to the SMS while the Saskatchewan Roughriders were fined for exceeding the cap by less than $100,000 and the Montreal Alouettes were fined and lost their first round draft pick (4th overall) in the 2008 Canadian college draft for exceeding the cap by more than $100,000.
Early leaked reports reported correctly that both Saskatchewan and Montreal were over the cap and the level of punishment they were to receive. globesports.com also correctly reported that Montreal was taking a decision to include defensive lineman Steve Charbonneau’s salary to arbitration. It was announced Monday Montreal lost the arbitration case, resulting in the Alouettes being $108,285 over the $4.05 million cap. Exceeding the cap by $100,000 caused Montreal to forfeit their first pick in the 2008 Canadian draft, scheduled for Wednesday, April 30. This resulted in all teams moving up one position and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats be granted the eighth and final pick of the first round as a result of their waiver priority due to holding the worst record in the league last year. This process was objected to by some teams who felt they too deserved to benefit from their adherence to the Salary Expenditure Cap, and a proposal to limit the first round to seven picks and see Hamilton make the final and 48th selection of the draft was made. Since the provisions of the SMS included the process for lost draft picks and this was approved by all teams last year, it appears that their oversight into potential imbalance in the distribution of draft picks will have to be corrected after this year, as the agreed to process stands.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders also lost an injured player arbitration, bringing their overage to $76,552, about $22,000 more than their reported $54,000 dollar-for-dollar SMS fine they reported in their financial statements. Roughrider General Manager Eric Tillman expressed support for the cap, but said the league’s highest number of injuries led to them exceeding the cap.
Somewhat surprisingly the CFL reversed it’s decision on the transparency of the results of the SMS audit. Mark Cohon has taken a large step in building fan trust in the system and the compliance of member franchises with this announcement. Faced with a lost draft pick and six of eight teams compliant, however, there was little reason to keep the results secret. Still unknown is the destination of the fines, though. Do they go into general CFL coffers to be distributed back to member clubs, just the SMS adhering clubs, the budget to run the league office or some other initiative?
Published on April 27, 2008
The most important piece of Canadian Football League news this off-season is the announcement on March 25 that the league has granted a conditional CFL franchise to a four person Ottawa group. The franchise is granted on the condition of the group negotiating a stadium lease, which requires City of Ottawa redevelopment of Frank Clair Stadium at Lansdowne Park. While I was not able to post at the time of the announcement, this is such a monumental announcement it deserves detailed coverage.
Published on April 23, 2008
Today the Canadian Football League announced that Calgary, Alberta has been named host of the 2009 Grey Cup game. The game will be played at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon made the official announcement in Calgary and Calgary Stampeders president Scott Ackles was on hand to unveil the official logo of the 2009 Grey Cup. Also present were Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to support the announcement. Malcolm Kirk was announced as the 2009 Calgary Grey Cup Championship and Festival Chairman and Greg Albrecht as the Festival President.
In the Canadian Press coverage of the news conference, Calgary Stampeders’ managing partner Ted Hellard stated temporary seating will be brought in for the championship game to increase capacity to “around 45,000″. It appears the mid-40 thousand mark is what host cities that require temporary seating are now aiming for. The reason may be to restrict ticket availability, allowing a greater premium to be put on ticket prices and to ensure not only a sell-out, but an appearance of packed stands, while still making a tidy profit with less risk. I counter that a progressive and growing city such as Calgary should be able to support an attendance of 50,000 and shooting any lower is a disservice to the Grey Cup. In a gate driven league, when they have one chance a year to showcase the league’s fan support and dispel the stereotype of a small fan base, the CFL and it’s member clubs should do all they can to make the Grey Cup a true showcase.
Another note of interest is the date of the 2009 championship, November 29. Curious, because the 2008 Grey Cup championship game to be played at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec is slated for November 23, not November 30 as you would expect, since Olympic Stadium is an indoor facility. I am in favour of a consistent Grey Cup date on the last Sunday of November, so the 2009 date is welcome to me.
Published on April 23, 2008
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ letter of intent with David Asper to turn over ownership of the franchise in exchange for a $65 million stadium/commercial investment and arranging $80 million in public funding for the Asper stadium plan has not progressed as planned. Asper stated March 29 that because of delays in arranging public financing having the stadium ready for the 2009 season did not look possible. Asper hoped to start construction this spring to have the stadium ready for next season’s opener. The slow political process has delayed the completion of the project until 2010 at the earliest but the team requires shovels in the ground in the next 90 days to achieve that date. The delays may have also increased the cost of the stadium by $20 million, but that number is disputed.
This means the Bombers will be in the current facility, Canad Inns Stadium (formerly Winnipeg Stadium) for another two seasons. Bomber management has concerns over the club’s ability to turn a profit in the current facility with three consecutive years of losses, not counting Grey Cup host profits, with on-field success. The complexities of negotiating with two level of governments for funding of a public stadium to host a private franchise is difficult. The Blue Bombers’ lack of some formal commitment for funding from the Manitoba and Canadian governments prior to selecting a stadium proposal has hurt their schedule. Right now the governments have no urgency to come to an agreement and commit the funds necessary to see the project go forward. If Asper’s time runs out, the club may be forced to Plan B, the revitalization of the existing stadium, to quickly create new revenue streams if public funding looks unlikely to come through.
Just down the road in Saskatchewan there has been a lot of talk on new stadium plans in both Regina and Saskatoon, but no serious prospects for funding. Pragmatically, the Roughrider ball club in conjunction with the City of Regina is moving forward with plans to improve and renovate their current stadium.
Published on April 22, 2008
Casual talk that the Toronto Argonauts would play their 2008 exhibition game at the outdoor BMO Field in June have been put to rest by the club president Michael Clemons. The idea of the Argos moving to the city-owned (and MLSE managed) outdoor facility has been floated by a number of public officials unassociated with the Argos in the past year. The benefits seen in such a move is providing a outdoor stadium with a more intimate setting for the Argo crowds than the current home, Rogers Centre. An exhibition game at the stadium would be used to gauge fan interest and possibly speed along BMO Field expansion plans.
For any Argo plan to move home stadiums, though, it appears the horse will need to come before the cart. BMO Field lacks a CFL regulation field size (with reports than end zone stands will have to be demolished to accommodate the field) and capacity for the Argos to play there. In 2007 the Argos averaged 31,000 fans at Rogers Centre, so BMO Field would have to be expanded 10-15,000 seats from the current 20,000 person capacity to accommodate their crowds. The stadium may have been built to allow the expansion of another 10,000 seats (which the current tenants, the Toronto FC, may soon need), but that may be short of the capacity the Toronto Argonauts need to grow their revenues enough to continue to be viable.
While an alternative, it is an expensive one at $20 million whether incurred by the public or the Argos. Right now it does not make sense for the Argos to consider, even for an exhibition game. The local owners have made great inroads in expanding their fan base, to the point now where they are averaging over 50% of capacity. Argo owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon will continue to want to grow what they have started, and Rogers Centre provides a place where they can do that. There is no reason to believe that they will not do so.
Published on April 22, 2008
At their annual general meeting Saturday the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced that they recorded a record net profit of $1,737,377 in 2007. The large profit is largely due to the success the club had on the field, winning 12 games, hosting a home playoff game and winning the league championship Grey Cup game. This success translated into selling out 8 of 10 regular season games and one playoff game at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field and playing to an average of 97% capacity for the year. The team’s success and popularity translated into additional revenue from merchandising and sold-out fund raising efforts Friends of the Riders Lottery and Plaza of Honour dinner.
While the figures released at the meeting match earlier reported numbers, the details reveal some interesting figures:
Earlier, the other team to make it to the Grey Cup final, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers reported a net loss of $264,000 for 2007. The net loss was approximately equivalent to the $262,000 expenditure for the solicitation of proposals for the development of a new stadium or the $300,000 in additional costs for reaching the Grey Cup. Some figures from the Bomber’s financial statements:
With these financials released, the three public (community owned) franchises in the CFL have now reported their 2007 results (the Edmonton Eskimos reported their results – a profit – back in February). While these three franchises are not a barometer for the whole league, coming from the strong prairie provinces, they do provide the public an insight into the finances of a CFL franchise and the health of the league.
Published on April 21, 2008
After some delays, I am pleased to officially launch CFLdb, the Canadian Football League Database. Online since last November (the week after the Grey Cup, actually), I am ready to start posting content as the Canadian Football League season draws near.
I am aiming to make CFLdb the information source for the CFL. While I will start will with a simple blog format, plans are to provide all kinds of information on the league, players, coaches, and teams. In addition, I plan to provide statistics and schedules and to top it all off, commentary and opinions on not only the game, but on the business and media aspects of Canada’s national football experience. As an encyclopedic source for Canadian Football League fans, CFLdb won’t be a source for discussions on whether the Argos suck or to lament your favourite team’s latest trade. Instead it will be a place of facts and insight on the topics facing the CFL today and in the future.
There will be some fun stuff as well. Contests and humour will be prevalent. I hope that everyone finds CFLdb a great source for CFL information. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on areas that need coverage. That is enough for now as I need to get working if this site is to become all I envision it to be.