PHOENIX -- The NFL may be coming to Toronto, but the group that is bringing the Buffalo Bills to the Rogers Centre insists there is no need for a CFL wake.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., chairman Larry Tanenbaum said yesterday that an official footprint of the NFL in southern Ontario should have be no cause for panic for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Toronto Argonauts or the rest of the CFL.
"The two leagues can co-exist," Tanenbaum said after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that Rogers Centre will play host to eight Bills games -- five regular season and three regular season over the next five years.
"It's a real leap to think this is a death knell for the NFL. That's absolutely not the case. It's eight games over five years."
Tanenbaum said his group was careful to include the Argos and Ticats in planning for the games -- including offering each the possibility of adding the NFL games to their season-ticket packages. Those details are expected to be released at a press conferrence next week.
"It's important for us," Tanenbaum said. "Ted Rogers and myself have always felt that the CFL is an important part of the football fabric of Canada and for Canadians.
"We are Canadian. We want to build the football presence within Canada and we want to do it by cooperationg with the Argonauts and Tiger Cats.
"We don't feel that there is a real cannibalization of anything. We feel we are adding ... a real opportunity for sponsors to get behind football, whether it's the CFL or NFL."
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon wasn't as confident that there could be a successful union of the two.
"The Golden Horseshoe is a very rich part of North America -- if I were in (the Bills) shoes, I would consider it, too," Cohon said hours after Goodell made his announcement. "But as a commissioner, I have to look out for the interest of our league."
Tanenbaum was also careful not to suggest that yesterday's announcement will immediately lead to a more permanent arrangement, however.
"I don't want to speculate about anything," Tanenbaum said. "With Rogers and ourselves, we know how important it is to bring this series to Canada. That's really our only focus."