Pan Am Bid Fails the CFL

Steve ThompsonAnalyst IIINovember 2, 2009

The above photo looks like the answer to one of the CFL's dreams. It is the proposed new Pan American Stadium to be built in Hamilton, Ontario should Toronto be successful in its bid to host the 2015 Pan American Games.

It looks like the future home of the Hamilton Tiger Cats. There is only one problem ... it only seats 15,000.

Such short sightedness also shows how low in status, the CFL is held in Canada.

Toronto's plan is to spread the games in an arc around Lake Ontario from St. Catharines to Oshawa, should it be successful in its bid. 

This new Hamilton Stadium could have become the new home of the Tiger Cats once the games were over, like Commonwealth Stadium did for the Edmonton Eskimos after the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

But the opportunity is going to be missed. Rightly, the bid organizers are building only what is needed, but since a new stadium was going to be built, here would have been a chance to combine an international sporting event with the CFL's future.

But like the recent announcement of a potential arena in Quebec, the CFL is nowhere to be found.

It's hard to accurately place the blame, but if Edmonton can act far sighted, than so can Hamilton.

You can't help thinking back to the Hamilton-Quebec City NHL bids. In both cases, the mayor was actively involved in giving public support for a renovated/new arena. In both cases, the two provincial premiers declared their support for a new franchise.

The CFL doesn't get that kind of political support. Does the CFL have any lobbyists?

The failure to network with potential new investors/government officials is part of the reason why the CFL has never expanded.

South of the border, you see governors, mayors, even the president, and other big shots regularly attending football games. 

You don't see much of that in Canada, which can also be viewed as a blessing, though hardly in the CFL's interest. The CFL needs all the rich friends it can get.

The Pan Am Games bid also could helped the CFL in other ways. If the new stadium could have been built in Oshawa or Kitchener instead of Hamilton, perhaps it could have been expanded so that the basis of a new CFL franchise could have been laid.

Both Kitchener and Oshawa are in the top ten for population growth in Canada since 1980, out growing Quebec, Hamilton, and Winnipeg. They are two of Canada's upcoming cities, potential thriving CFL franchises.

But again the CFL seems to be twisting in the wind, without friends and clout. The best it can do is get a half-size stadium in Moncton, a great potential CFL franchise in the very long term, but no immediate franchise like Kitchener and Oshawa could be.

So this opportunity is going to be missed. There will be no new CFL stadiums built should Toronto be successful. Along with all the new facilities that athletes could wish for, I'd be happy if the CFL acquired some far sighted, long term leadership.


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