Shutting it down

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The CFL is seriously considering shutting down the league for a full week in the middle of next season, not offering a single game.

"It's one of two options we're looking at," said Shawn Coates, the CFL's director of football operations, who admitted the status quo - two byes for each team over 20 weeks - is the other option on the table.

The radical new option calls for the league to be idle for the entire week of Aug. 20-26, with games resuming on Labour Day weekend Aug. 31-Sept. 3.

Under that plan, Coates is hoping to offer fans something else on the bye weekend.

"There's the possibility of some kind of event - maybe a skills competition," he said.

Apparently, there is already interest from a TV network in airing such an event.

But according to Coates, there is no chance there would be an all-star game as part of a skills competition during the week off.

Edmonton Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia is receptive to the proposal.

Especially having to endure a wacky 2006 schedule that featured nearly a three-week break after a mid-August game in Vancouver.

"Eighteen days between games is crazy," said the head coach, remembering the hiatus after losing to the Lions when Jason Johnson botched the field-goal snap on the final play of the game.

"It's way too long.

"I think it's a disadvantage (playing a team) after 18 days off."

With everyone taking a bye at the same time, that disadvantage would disappear.

The two schedule options still have to go before the league's board of governors.

That means a decision is still a long way off.

But if the league can't find an event to stage during a full-week break with no games, the idea should be scrapped.

Going dark with nothing happening for a week in the midst of the year would significantly hurt marketing efforts with every team, and drive down casual ticket sales.

Short hits ...

According to an Ottawa report, the CFL is now trying to get a $5 million franchise fee for a new team in the nation's capital. Although an American group - fronted by Bill Palmer - appears to be the only interested bidder remaining, the CFL has apparently jacked the cost by $1.5 million because a new Ottawa team would receive a chunk of a lucrative new TV contract ... Proving - yet again - his popularity in Quebec, Maciocia will be part of the panel during the Grey Cup broadcast on RDS, the French-language equivalent of TSN.


Videos

Photos