Published on May 23, 2008 9:58 PM by dbo.
Canadian Football League training camps get under way soon, with rookies reporting to teams next week and veterans next weekend. There are a lot of changes in many cities this year, with Calgary, Saskatchewan, Toronto and Montreal under new leadership along with some major player moves. The other four teams have also had changes in player personnel of interest. Quick analysis would have the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers favourites in their divisions, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos improved enough to present more of a challenge for playoff positions but solid predictions will have to wait until we get to see some of the re-tooled teams in exhibition games.
I will unveil an updated CFLdb this weekend just in time for the start of the season and plenty of CFL news. The site will always be a work in progress, and right now limited by the amount of time I have to work on it, which is less than I expected at this time. Until then I have a few last links to cover from recent days.
The Argos had a successful drive-through ticket sale earlier this month, and in their state of the franchise report have announced that season ticket sales are up about 5%. They also revealed they will be closing the 500 level of the Rogers Centre this year, leaving capacity at 31,074. Ticket prices have increased an average of 10% this year. With last year’s average attendance 30,931, increased demand and reduced supply is expected to increase the number of sellouts. Once sellouts occur, the team will investigate opening up the 500 level if interest warrants. Despite the reports of a slight increase in season ticket sales, some spun this as a disappointment considering the Argos co-promotion with the Buffalo Bills 5-year exhibition and regular season package at Rogers Centre for season ticket holders.
Speaking of Buffalo, interest in the Bills in Buffalo is increasing, while the NFL announced they will opt out of their labour agreement with the NFLPA after the 2010 season. This sets the stage for an NFL lockout aimed at changing the agreement in place for the last fifteen years which guarantees the players 60% of league revenues. High initial capital outlays to purchase franchises and build stadiums has pushed new owners to generate new revenue streams, which increased the salary cap but weren’t shared, putting increased pressure on teams in smaller markets who did not have access to other revenue, such as the Buffalo Bills. The NFL owners appear to be united to go to war over the next deal, except they have to wait to play a 2010 season without a salary cap before they can lock out the players prior to the 2011 season, unless the threat of such causes the Players Association to capitulate and agree to the owners demands sooner. Either way, it appears the NFL labour situation will play into any situation surrounding the ownership of the Buffalo Bills, should that event occur in the next three years. Unfortunately, Canadian Senator Larry Campbell plans to present a bill to the Senate that would aim to protect the CFL from the NFL. Any such a bill is very unlikely to be made law, so such an act only makes the CFL look like it needs protection. Seeing Canadians wanting to support important Canadian culture institutions like the CFL is encouraging, but protectionist sentiment does not put the CFL in the same light as pure vocal support for the league, not just with words, but with actions.
As discussed in my last post, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has announced that B.C. Place Stadium will be getting a new retractable roof. The new roof will not be installed until after the 2010 Winter Olympics, for which B.C. Place will host the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. A new retractable roof to replace the existing inflated roof is estimated to cost at least $150 million. The retractable roof would likely be a tension-fabric design with an approximate 25 × 85 meter opening in the center, which is about half the width and length of a regulation CFL field, including end zones.