By Eric Thompson
Keep Football out of Toronto
In a summer where the NFL has made some terrible decisions surrounding its players, the much-maligned league made at least one smart decision. With the agreement to sell the Buffalo Bills to local businessman Terry Pegula settled earlier this month, the team is all but guaranteed to stay in upper New York in the future. This means the dream of having a team based out of Toronto is dead for now, and hopefully forever.
Having an NFL team in Canada is a terrible idea. Comparing Canadian cities to American markets is like comparing apples to Ben Franklin, a useless if not entertaining practice.
The first problem with Toronto as a host city is the issue of a stadium. One of the biggest excuses for poor turnout at Argonauts games as well as the laughable “Bills in Toronto” experiment, was the idea that the Rogers Centre is a terrible place to watch football. The arguments are all there: it provides no parking for tailgating, ridiculous dimensions because of its baseball origins and at 54,000 capacity, it is not even close to the NFL norm.
However, at the moment it is the only possible host for an NFL team. The Bon Jovi led group was reportedly scouting locations to build a new stadium in the province’s capital, but one can’t imagine that search yielded any results. For a stadium in Toronto to succeed it needs to be in an area that can allow for thousands of parking spaces while also being adjacent to that mess of a system they call public transit. A location like that may be impossible to find.
Then there is the issue of financing. Looking around the current NFL, Minnesota is building a stadium for a projected $1.024 billion, of which almost half of it is publicly funded. The government here may be hesitant to kick that kind of money in, since the last time they funded a stadium in Toronto (what we now call the Rogers Centre), an initial contribution of $30 million ended up costing the taxpayers $262 million. Because if there is one thing Canadian projects do well, it is finishing behind schedule and over budget (see Tim Horton’s Field, The Big O, etc.).
Not to mention, earlier this month, it was announced the estimated expansion fee for another NHL team in Toronto would be over $1 billion. If you had to guess which venture the Ontario government would rather fund; which would you pick: a football team or another hockey team? (Here’s a hint, the Toronto Maple Leafs are currently the most valuable franchise in the NHL.)
And the issues continue from there. As we see in the news, NFL players continually have run-ins with the law. Will visiting teams have to leave players behind who cannot cross the border? And what would become of the Toronto Argonauts or the CFL as a whole?
The trouble of bringing a team to Canada is far too much for a sport that at the end of the day, is America’s game. You see it on the field every Sunday, giant flags, honouring serviceman, fireworks and anthems. The entire sport is a display of United States patriotism. Heck, 96 per cent of the league is born in the USA!
Toronto doesn’t need an NFL franchise. Nowhere in Canada needs that kind of headache. We have our own league. If you want to watch football, go support it. If you don’t like it, well Buffallo ain’t that far of a drive.