A Conversation With a Fictional Toronto NFL Fan

An imagined conversation between myself and a fictional Toronto NFL fan who is hyped about the latest news of an NFL franchise coming to Toronto.

So did you hear the news? Even the CFL wants to bring an NFL franchise to Toronto. That seals it. There is nothing standing in our way now.

Yes, it appears there was some discussion of this internally, initiated by the Argo ownership, but is was real preliminary, thinking-out-loud talk. The fact is anyone with these ambitions are still hampered by the lack of a franchise being available and what the cost will be. The NFL is not expanding to Canada (or anywhere right now for that matter) and no teams have requested to relocate. To acquire a franchise, one has to come up for sale. Then you must navigate the local governments trying to sweeten the pot for local owners, then outbid all bidders wanting to keep the team in place or relocate the franchise.

But it is only a matter of time, right? I mean Ralph Wilson is on his deathbed.

Last time I saw Ralph Wilson, he looked very well. People with billions of dollars tend to get very good health care. Wilson is only 89; I’m sure you have relatives that have lived longer.

OK, but there are other franchises. Won’t one of them be available soon?

What is your definition of soon? Can the NFL let the New Orleans Saints leave town without appearing to be kicking a city when it is down? Maybe in five years. Maybe New Orleans owner Tom Benson will be able to arrange for new stadium funding to make up for the mess after Hurricane Katrina. The Jacksonville Jaguars? There is not enough buzz to believe they are close to being for sale or requesting relocation. The Minnesota Vikings? I think it is more than a long shot that a franchise as storied as the Vikings would relocate or come up for sale to be moved. Remember when the Minnesota Twins were contracted? Now a new ballpark is being built in Minneapolis, partially funded by taxpayers when the billionaire Twins owner is one of the richest owners in baseball.

Well, it will happen eventually. We know Ralph Wilson’s estate will be selling the Buffalo Bills. Then I will be watching the NFL at Rogers Centre.

So in 5 or 10 years the Bills will be auctioned. Let’s say a Toronto group is successful in acquiring the franchise. They will then have to put the NFL on notice of their desire to move the team. That will likely require another year in Buffalo. Perhaps a few more years if they decide to play in the larger stadium rather than lose 20,000 seats by moving to Rogers Centre until a new stadium needs to be built. You do realize a new stadium is required?

Yes, but they have a plan for that. I’m sure it will be awesome. I can’t wait for the Super Bowl to come to TO!

Sure, the plan being to finance the building of a new stadium with seat licenses and naming rights. The stadium will have to be covered, right? Especially if you want Toronto to host the Super Bowl. Even if that isn’t a requirement, Toronto fans won’t sit outside in November let alone December and January so covered is a must. So you are looking at $1 billion if recent stadiums in New York and Dallas are any indication. You better build it right the first time, otherwise you will be asked to pay seat licenses again in 10 years for the next state-of-the-art stadium. So that probably puts the seat licenses out of your price range, even if they only seat license half of the stadium cost and debenture what was left after naming rights. Taking on any debt is not likely since the stadium has no revenue streams except football. There will likely be the odd concert, but those events are a break even prospect to cover operating costs during the off season.

But the Canadian dollar is strong. Now is the time to buy a team and build a stadium when $2 billion = $2 billion.

Sure. When bringing the NFL to Toronto was first raised 30 years ago the dollar was above par and now it is again. But the 30 years in between it wasn’t. So any franchise better be prepared to go through years of a 60 cent Canadian dollar, and perhaps not even par by the time they get a team. Then 4-5 years to get a stadium constructed and with the way construction costs overruns go, the final stadium price could run $1.5 billion or more. No one knows. It could be enough for everyone to forget Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

I’m sure that there can be some help from the three levels of government if money is needed to complete it.

I would not count on that. I would expect seat licenses to increase as the Mayor, Premier and Prime Minister have all nixed the idea of public money helping private billionaires and their sport teams. No government will stop private citizens from pursuing these opportunities, but no public money will go to help them. That will not change with any changes in government either.

Why are you so against this idea? We have MLB and the NBA and you were not opposed to that. Toronto is an international city and we deserve to have an NFL team.

The difference is there were no professional baseball and basketball leagues operating in Canada that the entry of MLB and the NBA in Canada affected. I believe that making a hostile franchise move of an NFL team into Canada may not be successful in the long term. The NFL has a strong record of supporting and not competing with the CFL, so it may not like coming to Canada under someone else’s terms. There is no guarantee American owners will grant a Canadian franchise the same share of television money or other revenue sharing if they are seen as rogue owners who are hurting the leagues revenue generation ability. If a Toronto franchise is financially crippled this way, the owners may end up having enough during a period of a low dollar and depressed economy and move or sell the team. If by this time the unique and culturally significant CFL was irrecoverably affected, this move by private citizens would have irreparably harmed Canada. I am not really against it as being a realist about the constant hype built on speculation, perhaps years before any of this comes to fruition.

You are making a lot of assumptions and conjecture about what might happen.

So are you. Your assumptions are just that Toronto bidders will be the only bidders, the NFL will be happy with the purchase, someone will pay for it, it will happen quickly and you will be celebrating a Super Bowl win by the Toronto Atoms on home field in the next decade.

The Toronto Atoms? No way. I think we should name them the Toronto Bills, or maybe the Ontario Bills… or the Canada Bills!

Great. You do realize what the Bills record in Super Bowls is?

4 Responses to “A Conversation With a Fictional Toronto NFL Fan”

  1. Jim Says:

    So which were you, the smart guy or the dumb guy?

  2. Jim Says:

    In honour of this peculiar style of article, I figured I would also have a fictional conversation with my cousin Gordon T. Hanson.

    Me: Hi Gord


    Me: Excuse me…….. helloooooooooooo!


    Me: Mmmmmm, ok. How’s life treating ya Gord?


    Me: Why do you always win the pools Gord?


    Me: So how was Mexico?


    Me: How about the golf game. What’s your handicap?


    Me: You must be cheating in the CFL contests!


    Me: You should be banned from entering the contests!!!!!!!!!


    Me: ARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! For the love of God, say something!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Me: (60 years later) Gord…..doctor says I’ve only got a few hours more… It’s now or never.


    Me: Gasp….gurgle………gulp……….

    Gord: :)


  3. Jon Says:

    @Jim 1 – Who do you think is the smart guy?

  4. mudler Says:

    Okay Jim, I am here…I didn’t realize you wanted a response out of me.

    See, I now live by one single philosophy: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”

    So, as per the above, here is my response:

OC Jottings

No jottings in the last 7 days. Here is a random jotting.

  • January 28, 2007
    Ottawa Citizen Reports Hurdles Cleared in Franchise Deal → The CFL or the Palmer ownership group is not commenting, but in a Ottawa Citizen story, also picked up by the CBC and TSN, two major financial issues have been agreed upon. With these issues resolved, the bidders need to work on player issues with the league as the last major issue. It is possible the framework could be in place to get tentative approval at the CFL Congress Feb. 12-15. The franchise would then have time to finalize negotiations for the stadium lease and team name to be awarded the franchise and be fully operational by training camps in May. #
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