SBD/January 24, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Toronto Mayor Hopes To Bring NFL Franchise To City

Mayor Ford behind latest push for NFL franchise in Toronto
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford "hopes to bring" an NFL franchise to the city, and his brother, Toronto Councillor Doug Ford, said that "four groups have approached city hall with hopes of bringing a team north," according to the CBC. Toronto "has made attempts to bring a team to the city in the past, most notably in 1989 and 1995 when a group led by Paul Godfrey made a bid for a team." But Toronto Sun sports columnist Steve Simmons said, "I just don't see it happening. They can't sell their ads that they sell on U.S. television here. They can't market that way here" (CBC.ca, 1/21). Doug Ford said, "To be a world class city, at least a North American world class city, we need an NFL team." He added the NFL "can't ignore a market like Toronto," as it is the "fourth largest city in North America." In Toronto, Jonathan Jenkins noted in "keeping with the bedrock Ford value of fiscal conservatism," Ford said that "no public money would be involved, either with the purchase of a team or the construction of a stadium." The Jaguars and Chargers are "two teams possibly on the move," but Ford said that he is "so far only talking to private investors and hasn't opened a conversation with the league itself" (TORONTO SUN, 1/21).

NOT A PIPE DREAM: Godfrey, Publisher of the National Post, said the idea is "not a pipe dream." Godfrey: "I am confident the NFL is on Toronto's horizon. It is difficult to put a time frame on it but I do know Toronto has everything. It's a city that stands on its own with corporate head offices, strong employment and loads of football fans." Godfrey "believes the mood, acceptance and success will be more positive" than the Bills Toronto Series "if the NFL team being marketed was Toronto's own" (TORONTO SUN, 1/22).

WRONG APPROACH: In Toronto, Royson James wrote there is "nothing wrong with the Ford Boys stoking the fires of a dying dream" as long as they "have enough energy left to fix the other big-ticket items on their city hall plate." But you can "just tell the Ford Boys know nothing about anything regarding impressing the NFL." James: "The most successful sports league in North America is a closed fraternity of old rich guys who do their business in private and don't take kindly to front-page blowhards demanding a piece of their most prized sports properties" (TORONTO STAR, 1/22). Also in Toronto, Dave Perkins wrote, "You want to even think about playing ball with them one day, you toe every line and never, ever pretend they need you in the least. The league already has plenty of compliant billionaires on hand. It wants rich silent partners and takes on no other kind" (TORONTO STAR, 1/22).
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