There was joy for Quebec hockey fans last week when Mayor Regis Labeaume announced that a feasibility study was being conducted for a proposed new 18,000 seat arena which he enthusiastically endorsed, not only for a returned Nordiques but for a possible bid for the Winter Olympics.
Slowly, the pieces are being put in place; civic support; a major investor, Quebecor; encouragement, though not a commitment from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
If only the CFL could join in. Quebec sports fans are talking hockey, not CFL football.
Quebec is the best Canadian city for CFL expansion but there is no feasibility study being done for a less-expensive CFL stadium. The CFL is paying for its lack of roots in Quebec and in other non-CFL cities with the exception of Moncton which is building a half-size CFL stadium.
This event and the Jim Balsillie Hamilton hockey adventure show how far down the list CFL football is compared to hockey in Canada.
If Balsillie and Quebecor had announced they were seeking CFL franchises for London and Quebec, there would be no obstacles placed in their way by the CFL.
There was a petition signed by 80,000 fans for the return of the Nordiques; none for getting a CFL franchise.
When I typed into the Internet, I have discovered petitions for getting NHL franchises for Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Kitchener, and two for the return of the Hartford Whalers. There was even a petition for the firing of Gary Bettman.
I could not find one for any city wanting a CFL franchise. The best I could do was find an old one asking that Michael Bishop be made the starting quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts.
Clearly the CFL has got to start putting down more roots in Canada. I know it has limited resources, but as I've indicated in the Stimulus To CFL Expansion series of articles I have written and which I will continue to add to, there is much the CFL could do to get increased interest and investment in its league.
Having the Commissioner and other CFL luminaries make occasional visits to non-CFL Canadian cities to talk about the feasibility of a franchise is not enough.
There is no grass roots support or any corporate interest. The CFL has got to do a better job.
Right now, the CFL is congratulating itself on getting a team back in Ottawa and playing a regular season game in Moncton. Let's give them a laurel wreath.
It doesn't hide the fact that they are down 4-0 in petitions to the NHL, which snubs Canada for getting new franchises here.
All the steps that I have listed above that are happening in Quebec City are not happening for the CFL there or any other place in Canada.
Football will never take the place of hockey in Canada but at least the CFL could run a close second instead of trailing near the rear.
This section is addressed to my fellow writers of FANS OF THE CFL, the new on-line CFL magazine which will certainly help stimulate more interest in the CFL in Canada and elsewhere. Should the magazine start an on-line petition for new CFL franchises, new stadiums, and if so where?
Should there be more than one? Giants would probably want a Syracuse franchise and our publisher Jonathan, Saskatoon. And I would favour Quebec, London, and Kitchener. I'll leave it up to my fellow writers, and readers if they want to take up the project.
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