Any concerns that the CFL would be shortchanged by the launch of the Alliance of American Football — the new U.S.-based spring league that kicked off the weekend after Super Bowl LIII — have evaporated very quickly this month
Bulls of the Week
The NBA basked in the glow of a truly entertaining all-star game Sunday in Charlotte, the San Diego Padres surprised the baseball world with the acquisition of marquee free agent Manny Machado and the Calgary Flames continued to stake their claim to Stanley Cup contender status as Canada’s top-ranked NHL team heading into the trade deadline Monday.
Yet north of the border, it was the Canadian Football League that once again had a bullish week in the business of sport.
It’s been a very decent couple of weeks for the CFL when it comes to getting attention during its off-season. After what was arguably the most talked about free agency kickoff in league history two weeks ago, the CFL worked well with its member franchises in Regina and Hamilton to create almost a week of speculation in the lead-up to a meaningful media announcement on Grey Cup hosting opportunities.
Fan viewing parties were held in Hamilton, Saskatoon and Regina on Thursday night. That’s when the league awarded the Saskatchewan Roughriders the 2020 Grey Cup Festival at Mosaic Stadium. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats also came away with a prize, the rights to the 2021 Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field.
You can quibble about east-west rotation and how long Hamilton has gone without hosting a Grey Cup (essentially a quarter-century) and suggest the Tiger-Cats should have received the nod for 2020. And given recent and projected rotation, that’s a strong case. But in the same way that the International Olympic Committee dealt with Paris and Los Angeles last year, the CFL found a way to make at least two of the three finalists for 2020 happy. Montreal will have to wait at least three more years for the chance to host the Grey Cup.
The bottom line is that the CFL has had more than its hard core fans talking about three-down football these past couple of weeks in February, and that’s good for the league, its nine franchises, its broadcast rights holders, corporate partners and licensees and suppliers.
Any concerns that the CFL would be shortchanged by the launch of the Alliance of American Football — the new U.S.-based spring league that kicked off the weekend after Super Bowl LIII — have evaporated very quickly this month. In fact, the long-standing Canadian institution that is the CFL has looked, sounded and felt very stable, solid and confident going into its 2019 season, especially when compared to the nascent Alliance.
Bears of the Week
This was not a good week for the Alliance. It never is for any business — inside or outside of the business of sport — when a payroll is in danger of being missed.
That was the unfortunate predicament that came to light when it was announced that Caroline Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon — of all people — would be named the new chairman of the board for the Alliance. That was one of the dividends paid out to Dundon when he invested $250 million into the new eight-team league to help it meet payroll and keep it afloat to fight another day.
Regardless, it was not a good look for the new kid on the football block, just two weeks old.
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