Good news, bad news for league

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Some random thoughts that sprang up while watching the CFL's splashy, albeit conditional, return to Ottawa yesterday:

- How did the cost of a CFL expansion franchise nearly double -- from $4 million to $7 million -- in just six years?

I recall how the owners of the Renegades choked on the $4 million price tag they were asked to swallow in 2002. Yet the Dream Team assembled in the nation's capital this time showed no such discomfort.

Obviously the league has come a long way in six years if it can extract that kind of money from someone who wants to join the club.

Attendance and ownership is strong, no teams are buried under massive debt and there's a sweet new TV contract, with league revenue approaching the $2 million mark, per team.

So if an expansion team is worth $7 million, what's an established team with 75-plus years and 10 Grey Cup championships under its belt worth?

Just wondering, as we wait to see if David Asper gets the franchise as his own personal plaything.

- On a related note, if Asper coaxes, say, $25 million from the feds for a new Blue Bomber playpen, then how can Ottawa politicians not contribute at least that much to their team's new home? And the next city that comes calling?

After all, the stadiums in Hamilton, Regina and Montreal are all as old, if not older, than ours.

Seems the Winnipeg proposal, however it shakes down, could set a precedent that'll be felt around the CFL for years.

- Does the addition of a ninth team in 2010, or later, mean a better product in the CFL?

Probably not.

It could actually be worse, because the lack of quality Canadian players would spread the homegrown talent thinner.

"There's definitely enough to stock another team, but I don't know if they're necessarily all the calibre you would want your performers at," Bomber D-lineman Doug Brown was saying yesterday. "You'd like to think over the years the calibre and numbers of Canadian talent would be increasing, but that's not necessarily the case."

If and when Ottawa comes on board, at least 20 more Canucks will get jobs playing football, which is great.

But half of them will have to be starters.

"Are the young guys good enough, and are they good enough, soon enough?" Bomber assistant GM Ross Hodgkinson wondered aloud. "And are the old guys getting to hang around a little bit longer than maybe they otherwise would?"

Yup.

Who knows, Wade Miller could even make a comeback.

- Is there a potential battle brewing over the terms of yet another Ottawa expansion draft?

The issue of how the Renegades were allowed to stock their roster for Year 1 caused some serious friction six years ago, and led to them fielding a lousy team.

The same expansion draft rules, allowing the other eight teams to protect nearly all their good players, are still in place.

But these words from co-owner Roger Greenberg yesterday sounded kind of ominous, to me.

"The fans of this city cannot tolerate another expansion team," Greenberg said, suggesting the new owners won't tolerate simply acquiring the dregs of the league.

The current rules, part of the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners, expire after the '09 season, setting up a showdown that might have more spirited action than the new team shows on the field that first year.

- Finally, I'm more optimistic about the prospects of another team in Ottawa after seeing and hearing the new owners.

The Dream Team seemed genuine and professional.

And nobody seemed interested in dating a cheerleader, signing a druggee from the NFL or staging a promotion that encourages female fans to bear their breasts.

Progress, it seems, has been made.


Videos

Photos