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You like football, eh?

by Andrew Maggio November 13, 2012
You like football, eh?

Graphic by Phil Waheed

In the midst of a mind-boggling, hair-pulling, rage-inducing NHL Lockout, only few things have kept us sports fans sane: replayed games on T.V., a lot more beers, and the National Football League.

Oh yes, we love our football up here, especially our Canadian football: we love our bigger fields, bigger end zones, and most of all, our bigger balls.

But there’s nothing quite like the NFL. It’s like a drug you can only get during certain times of the year and while you wait you are lost in an abyss, unsure of where to go or what to do.

And then, the first training camp whistle is blown and off we go on a six month roller coaster ride that leaves us captivated. But, in the blink of an eye, it’s all over.

So, no matter how much we love our Canadian football, there’s always a big spot in our hearts for the NFL.

Now picture a world where an NFL team calls a major Canadian city home … how sweet would that be? Well, here I come, ladies and gents, to stomp all over that dream.

The NFL will not come to Canada. It will not work in Canada. Let that sink in. It sucks, but it’s the cold, hard truth.

An NFL franchise is not a piece of IKEA furniture that you can simply purchase, bring home and build on your living room floor. An NFL franchise is a treasure, a priceless monument that breeds a standard that other North American professional leagues can only dream of achieving. There’s also the small matter of how incredibly expensive an NFL franchise is, not to mention the high costs of running one—and running it depends mostly on fans filling the seats.

Moe Khan, TSN 690’s top football mind, paints a simple but detailed picture of why the NFL wouldn’t work in a Canadian market.

“The NFL in Canada won’t work,” he said, “because Toronto doesn’t even have an NFL-approved stadium. The fan base is also spread out over all the different teams. To defend Toronto, they do have the population and the financial hub, but they haven’t shown enough to merit serious consideration for a franchise.”

Khan is right—the Buffalo Bills games played in Toronto over the past several seasons have yielded crowds and atmospheres described as listless and lacking energy, despite the rampant popularity of the league across the country. Compare that to the rambunctious crowds found at London’s Wembley Stadium for their NFL games; not to mention the ringing endorsement that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of the league’s most influential owners, gave London, which has never been given in Toronto.

“I think London has shown with the way they’ve handled the Olympics and every other major sporting event that it’s time for you to have your own NFL franchise based in London,” Kraft said to the Boston Herald.

“The NFL dollar is different than the NHL dollar,” said Khan, “To run an NHL franchise is in the millions—to run an NFL franchise is in the billions, and any expansion [or relocation] would cost upwards of 600 million dollars.”

“I would rank Los Angeles, London and Mexico before Toronto as potential NFL destinations,” added Khan.

Personally, I don’t even think London would work. It’s an American game. It’s part of the American culture. When we hear Americans talk about hockey, we tend to scoff and brush them aside. Those silly Americans, showing up at their arena in Anaheim in flip-flops and sun hats. We’re the real hockey fans.

Well, the die-hard Buffalo Bills fan tailgating in the stadium parking lot eight hours before game-time in freezing cold weather is thinking the exact same thing about us and our big fields, big end-zones, and big balls.

Get used to it, Canadian NFL fans. The NFL is staying south of the border; right where it belongs.

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