Economics of NFL in Toronto is confusing business

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Rick LeLacheur delivered a very clear message to CFL fans fearing the NFL's possible arrival in Canada.

"There will always be Canadian football in Edmonton," said the Eskimos president and CEO yesterday afternoon.

LeLacheur was surrounded by reporters at the time because the Buffalo Bills are interested in playing pre-season games and a regular-season game before the end of the decade in Toronto.

This comes on the heels of recent noise of investors wanting to bring an NFL team to T.O.

A successful businessman, LeLacheur is practically scratching his head over the Bills interest in playing some home games in Toronto.

"I am kind of confused by it," he remarked.

"The thing I can't understand - maybe I am not a good mathematician, I am just a truck driver - they've got something like 80,000 seats in Buffalo.

"And they say they are only getting 90% attendance so they want to go to the northern part of their market, which is Toronto that only has 50,000 seats (at Rogers Centre).

"So, they must think the Canadian dollar is going up a lot higher than two cents difference.

"It doesn't make sense to me."

On a permanent NFL team possibly coming to Toronto farther down the road, LeLacheur believes there would be a reorganization of the CFL if that happened.

"Would there be a franchise (a CFL one) in Toronto - I don't know," he commented.

"Maybe there would be a franchise in Mississauga.

"It might have to be re-structured, but there would be Canadian football in a number of the cities, particular in the West."

Like the B.C. Lions, the Eskimos have applied for a one-time NFL regular season game.

Edmonton would like the game on a Monday night at Commonwealth Stadium during the Thanksgiving long weekend in 2008 or 2009.

Lions owner David Braley said yesterday that he has applied for an NFL game in 2009 at B.C. Place to lead up to the Olympics. He seems very doubtful that an NFL team will permanently move to Canada anytime soon.

"What is the value?" remarked Braley on the hurdles that would have to be overcome.

"Who is going to pay how much money (to get a team)?

"Is the NFL going to approve it?

"Is there a new stadium being built (in Canada)?

"I still don't see an easy solution that would work for all parties that would not affect the NFL somewhat negatively for them to come into Canada."

Braley is a veteran in the world of NFL economics.

After turning down an opportunity to buy the Minnesota Vikings 15 years ago for $180 million, Braley did look at buying into the rebirth of the Cleveland Browns.

One estimate suggests an existing NFL team right now would carry a price tag of close to $1 billion.


Videos

Photos