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CFL HAS REASON TO BELIEVE THEY WILL BE RECEIVED IN GRACELAND
Published November 18, 1994
The CFL "went for a strong football background yesterday when in accepted Memphis as its 13th member." The announcement that Federal Express founder Fred Smith was joining the league gave credibility to the CFL's American expansion effort (Ken Murray, Baltimore SUN, 11/18). The team will play at the 62,512 seat Liberty Bowl when it takes the field next season, but still must work out a lease agreement with the city and renovations. A possible name: the Memphis Cobras (Mike Ganter, TORONTO SUN, 11/18). BIG MOVE: Because the CFL has experienced difficulty this year, yesterday's announcement was seen as significant. Stephen Brunt of the GLOBE & MAIL writes that "a great big corner has been turned on the road to make it a viable, continental league." With FedEx, the CFL "acquired a new veneer of corporate credibility," made it likely that "more high-quality ownership will come on board," and "greatly enhanced" chances of attracting U.S. TV dollars -- maybe even CBS. "The sponsorship opportunities [Fred Smith] brings to the table are enormously significant" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18). In addition, CFL Commissioner Larry Smith may have saved his job. Larry Smith: "We think this gives us exactly the same profile that Blockbuster Video and Disney gave to the NHL" (Rick Matsumoto, TORONTO STAR, 11/18). CFL's Baltimore Owner Jim Speros also noted the potential sponsorships Smith and FedEx bring: "He'll help us get to the next level" (Baltimore SUN, 11/18). NEXT MOVE? Sunday's Western Division final between the Calgary and British Columbia has sold an "astonishingly low total of 12,000 tickets." Stampeders Owner Larry Ryckman has threatened to move the team to San Antonio, and "people are now beginning to take him seriously." Calgary kicker Mark McLoughlin: "You look at Baltimore and now Memphis, if those teams do well and they get a TV contract I'll honestly forecast that there will be no teams in Canada in the near future" (Neil Campbell, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 11/18).