Stimulus to CFL Expansion No. 3: Get Ottawa Competitive—Quickly

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIIOctober 7, 2009

According to Commissioner Mark Cohon during halftime of the Labor Day game between Toronto and Hamilton, he fully expects Ottawa to be rejoining the CFL next year.

Assuming that's true, it is vital for the CFL to get Ottawa competitive quickly.

That it's vital for the Ottawa market is obvious, but for this article I am going to explain why a quickly competitive Ottawa will help future expansion.

A successful team usually draws big crowds, and assuming this will happen with Ottawa in a very short time, the faster and easier Ottawa becomes a contender will encourage would-be CFL investors to step forward in other cities.

If investors see Ottawa becoming successful on the field and drawing large crowds quickly, perhaps they'll get excited visions in their heads that it could happen for them too in a new Canadian CFL city in a short time.

When a league expands and wants to lay down roots in a new city, there is no faster way than to get a winning team established quickly.

That gets fans talking about the team, increases media coverage, and encourages ticket and merchandise sales. When investors see successful box office returns, they'll want to get on the bandwagon.

So the CFL should try to give Ottawa as generous expansion terms as possible. They've got to give them access to good players both during the expansion draft and the CFL University draft.

Usually when a new team is added to a league, the other members offer little except the first round draft choice to start with. They want the new team to pay its dues.

But the CFL cannot afford to do this. Thirty years of non-competitive football has resulted in two franchise foldings. The CFL cannot risk another humiliation.

By getting Ottawa up and running successfully quickly, the CFL will not only restore a lost market but also encourage other investor visionaries to step forward and bring new cities into the CFL.