Mr. Balsillie, the CFL Is Under Your Nose

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIIMay 23, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 25:  James Johnson #19 of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders jumps over a fallen Ryan Dinwiddie #4 after his interception to score a touchdown to tie the game 7-7 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the second quarter of the 95th Grey Cup on November 25, 2007 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Johnson would be the MVP in a 23-19 Rough Rider win.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

I don't know if Jim Balsillie is a member of Bleacher Report.  I receive e-mails from his website, makeitseven lobbying for an NHL franchise for Hamilton and I'd like somehow to send him an e-mail with this article attached to it.  Mr. Balsillie, if you peruse Bleacher Report, this article is addressed to you.

You portray yourself as a Canadian patriot trying increase the Canadian content of the American dominated NHL.

What will you do if they turn you down for the third time?  What will you invest that $212 million in?

Mr. Balsillie, if you want to do a patriotic, Canadian act, invest in the CFL.  I know you like hockey better and a hockey team in Hamilton or some other southern Ontario city would make a fortune, but as the Rolling Stones sang, you can't always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need.

There is a precedent too.  Harold Ballard couldn't get a sniff of the Stanley Cup, all the years he owned the Toronto Maple Leafs, but as soon as he switched leagues, the Hamilton Tiger Cats gave him his only championship.

The NHL doesn't seem to need you, Mr. Balsillie,  but maybe the CFL does.  I don't think the commissioner, Mr. Cohon will launch a lawsuit if you tell him you want to invest in his league.  In fact, if you get along with him, he might take some of that money from you that Mr. Bettman repeatedly spurns.

Now the CFL is adding a team in Ottawa next year to bring its quota back to nine teams.  It will be placed in the Eastern Conference with Winnipeg going back to the west.

You have the opportunity to do something no Canadian has ever done, add a tenth team to the CFL and balance up the Eastern Conference with the west.  I can't think of a more patriotic act in the annals of Canadian sports.  Expanding the CFL to ten teams is unprecedented.

The leading choices for expansion are Quebec, Kitchener, and London.  Quebec is probably the best choice, but I know you have your heart set on doing something for southern Ontario.

Kitchener would be a good choice, but I think Hamilton might be tempted to raise something like Buffalo and Toronto are currently threatening with your NHL bid, something about territorial compensation.

But this is the CFL,  Mr. Balsillie, not the NHL.  I think they might want you to join their league at all costs and Mr. Cohon will probably steer you into accepting London instead.  He might give you further inducement by promising you that London can stage the Grey Cup a few times if you decide to come aboard.

London is a good choice for a CFL team.  It is the tenth largest city in Canada and is one of the fastest growing of the up and coming smaller Canadian cities.

It's located in southern Ontario like you want and it has a tradition of supporting football at the college level at the University of Western Ontario.

Now the main reason that cities like London, Quebec, and Kitchener don't have a CFL team is that they have nowhere to play, but you indicated in your NHL bid that you are not adverse to putting up a new structure.

So instead of building an arena, why don't you put up a stadium instead?  The CFL wants one over 25,000 but with your grand plans for Hamilton's arena, why settle for only the minimum size stadium?

And I have more good news for you, Mr. Balsillie.  Winnipeg's new 30.000 seat stadium will only cost $100 million.  That's a lot cheaper than the $212 million you want to spend on the Phoenix Coyotes.  And the expansion fee for the CFL is much cheaper too.  You would be getting quite a bargain.

And if you want, Mr. Balsillie, you can take things further, an offer like those cd ads you see on tv where you get a bonus disk thrown in.

Some sports owners don't just build stadiums, they build complexes.  Several years ago, Kansas City decided they wanted to honour President Harry Truman by building him a complex.  So they built him a complex with a baseball and football stadium.

If you get enough land in London, why don't you do the same?  You could build a stadium and an arena.  Go high on the hog and build a 50,000 seat stadium and a 20,000 seat arena.

And you know what Mr. Balsillie, London is outside the territorial waters of Buffalo and Toronto so if you built an arena to go with your stadium, you would owe them nothing if you decide to try for an NHL team again.

I think you'll be happy with the Grey Cup, Mr. Balsillie.  I've picked it up a few times and I like it just as much as the Stanley Cup.  I'm sure you will too.

And Mr. Balsillie, while you are enjoying finally being a Canadian sports franchise owner, and following the adventures of your new CFL team, I'll bet some of those money-losing NHL owners will be eyeing your new 20,000 seat, London arena.

Who knows, instead of you chasing the NHL, they might start to chase you.  Then you can play the prima-donna and you won't need a makeitseven website to get a team.

I don't think you'll need a makeitten website to get a CFL team either.

So there you go, I've given you a good alternative to invest in.

And if you still can't make up your mind, you can give me 1/212th of your NHL offer.  Unlike Mr. Bettman, I'll be very happy to accept it.


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