T.O. bucks NFL trend

Toronto Mayor David Miller's answer to the city being involved in getting an NFL stadium was a...

Toronto Mayor David Miller's answer to the city being involved in getting an NFL stadium was a simple: "No." (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

ROB GRANATSTEIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Toronto taxpayers will not kick in hundreds of millions of dollars for an NFL stadium if a team is ever awarded to this city, Mayor David Miller said yesterday.

Larry Tanenbaum and Ted Rogers said this week they are interested in bringing the NFL north of the border, but it's well known that the Rogers Centre isn't an NFL-calibre stadium.

Its capacity of less than 60,000 for football is too small, so it would have to be renovated or a new stadium would have to be built to accommodate an NFL team.

Miller's answer to the city being part of getting an NFL stadium was a simple: "No."

Unlike U.S. cities that have bankrolled the pigskin teams, Toronto taxpayers will not pay to renovate the Rogers Centre or build a new field.

U.S. cities have paid big bucks for stadiums. In Cleveland, taxpayers picked up 94% of the $453-millionUS Paul Brown Stadium.

In Indianapolis, local taxpayers will pick up $635 millionUS of the new $687-million Colts stadium, covered by car rental and hotel taxes, restaurant and new ticket taxes plus a share of the existing state taxes.

In New England and Washington, the teams paid for two-thirds of their stadiums.

Miller said he wouldn't turn down a discussion with Tanenbaum, a minority owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, and cable czar Rogers, owner of the Toronto Blue Jays, but that's as far as he'd go.

"My understanding is the NFL doesn't seem overly interested in expanding into Canada," Miller said.

Miller said his concern is the viability of the CFL, and the Toronto Argonauts have to be a flagship franchise in that league for it to succeed.

"As long as the NFL comes here in a way that supports the CFL, great," Miller said. "But the CFL's health is important to the whole country."

An NFL franchise would cost more than $1 billion.

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has said in the past Toronto could one day get a team, maybe.

The old commissioner said there is no timetable on expansion, but he left the door open for Toronto.

"I think it could be very likely that the next franchises in the NFL beyond 32 are outside the United States," Tagliabue said at the Super Bowl in 2005. "Toronto certainly would be a candidate. My guess is it will happen."


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