The CFL, indeed none of the other North American professional sports leagues except the NFL, has little to rejoice about after California Governor Arnold (Terminator) Schwarzenegger signed a bill approving the construction of a new ultra-luxurious Los Angeles stadium which is a threat to all future expansion in every league, but particularly in Canada where construction of new stadiums may require government money.
The threat is not the stadium itself, but the avowed intentions of its chief investor/builder, Majestic Realty Co.
Majestic has stated that it is not interested in getting an expansion team, but wants to steal an existing NFL team from another city, and has publicly listed seven targets so far. Indeed, Majestic has gone as far as to state that it will not begin construction of the new stadium until an existing team is stolen.
Why is that bad news for the CFL, indeed for every professional sports league in North America?
If the CFL wants to expand in Canada, it needs new stadiums built in non-CFL cities. But if I am a fan/taxpayer, the news from California has got to make me stop and think.
Currently Quebec which wants to get its NHL team back, is conducting a feasibility study for building a new $400 million arena which the NHL deems necessary for Quebec to either get an expansion team, or purchase a money-losing American franchise.
The plan calls for $175 million each from both the Federal and Provincial governments, and the municipality to invest $50 million.
But what is the use of building an arena/stadium when another pretty face builds a bigger, more luxurious facility and steals your team? What happens to your $400 million investment?
The situation in Los Angeles simply illustrates the fickle nature of professional sports and its owners. The NFL could nip this potential crisis in the bud by announcing expansion and then awarding Majestic a team along with some other American city.
But the NFL probably won't do that. This is a great opportunity to blackmail every threatened city into building new ultra-luxurious stadiums that cater to rich people/corporations, or risk losing their team.
This includes teams that have sell-out games regularly. So much for fan loyalty.
In the face of this piracy, how can the CFL approach cities and governments to build new stadiums?
If I'm a taxpayer, why should my money be spent for a bunch of fickle rich men?
In Canada, almost every time there is a bid for a major international sports event like the Olympics, protest groups appear denouncing money spent on "bread and circuses". This will only justify their arguments.
There is also the bad precedent of Hamilton, which spent its tax dollars on an NHL-size arena only to be repeatedly snubbed. Only the fact that the arena can attract other events like concerts and conventions that enable it to make a profit, saved the city from a total fiasco.
The CFL, which has little clout any way, doesn't need this NFL highlight.
The spectacle of a pirate owner like Majestic in cahoots with a ruthless, arrogant sports league like the NFL is the last image the CFL needs.
Even the most besotted advocate of CFL expansion has got to shiver and think twice before advocating any tax money for new stadiums.
I once wrote an article, that if Los Angeles makes Buffalo its victim, the CFL could move in and establish an entire northern New York State division. That may be the only benefit the CFL gets.
Photo Courtesy of: Los Angeles Stadium.com