New Calls for an NFL team in Toronto as the Argos beat Calgary in the Canadian version of the Super Bowl.
There are a number of corporations and individuals interested in being the Johnny Appleseeds of American Football, and spreading it over the Globe. NFL expansion is coming for certain; the only question is the location of the new cities.
London is Europe's best chance for an NFL club.
On Sunday, October 28, 2012, the New England Patriots demolished the St. Louis Rams 45 to 7 in a sold out game in London's Wembley Stadium. Over 84,000 fans jammed the rain soaked venue and stayed seated right to the end despite the bad conditions - the torrential downpour and the blow-out.
Excitement for the game was high and even though the Rams were the 'home' team, it seemed most of the crowd was for the Patriots - many Londoners said they favored the Pats because they have "England" in their name.
In a media appearance one day before the game, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said there should be an NFL team in London. He said the city deserves a franchise.
The NFL has played games in London’s Wembley Stadium since 2007. Those attractions have consistently drawn over 75,000 fans. The Patriots last played across the pond in 2009 when they defeated Tampa Bay.
Next year Jacksonville will begin a four year deal to be the home team for one game in London each season.
Two years prior to the first London contest, The Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers, 31 to 14 in Mexico city before what must be the biggest crowd ever assembled for an American football game. More than 103,000 people jammed into Estado Azteca.
Mexico City is enormous beyond belief. The city proper has about 9 million souls and the metro area has more than 21 million. Consider this: Mexico City - 1400 square miles - 21 million people. The Dominion of Canada - about 4,000,000 square miles - 34 million people.
The city with perhaps the best chance to get its own team, is Toronto.
Rogers Communications, which owns, among many other things, the Rogers Center and the Toronto Blue Jays; is the Canadian firm most likely to take control of a new Canadian franchise.
Toronto is the fifth largest community in North America. The city has a population of about 2.5 million people. The metro area brings the total up to about 5 million.
Toronto has one team from every major American Sports league, except football. It has the Blue Jays in baseball, the Raptors in basketball and the venerable Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League.
It has the Argonauts of the popular Canadian Football League. Fans in Canada like the CFL second only to hockey; but they are also partial to American Football as evidenced by the huge number of Canadians who go to the Buffalo Bills games. Some 15,000 people from Southern Ontario regularly attend the Buffalo home games. The Bills have played several of their contests in Toronto at the Rogers Center, including October 30, 2011 when they beat the Washington Redskins 23-0 in front of 51,579 spectators.
The CFL Argos did not field a good team last year (finishing last in the Eastern Division with a 6-12 record) and had the lowest average attendance in the CFL. The Argonauts drew 20,000 people per date, while the Edmonton Eskimos led the association with an average of 35,000.
This season, (2012), with a new Head Coach the Argos were much improved. They had a 9 and 9 record in the regular season and gained a playoff spot. Taking full advantage of their postseason berth, the Argos won two postseason games and earned the right to face off against the Calgary Stampeders for the Canadian version of the Super Bowl - the Grey Cup. This year's Grey Cup was the 100th playing of the game and was part of a weeklong series of parties and events that were attended by many thousands of fans from across Canada and the U.S. The Grey Cup was shown live in the United States on NBC television on Sunday November 25 at 6:00 p.m.
Going into the game, Toronto was favored by many, despite having a worse record than 'The Stamps'. The Argos had twice defeated Calgary during the regular season. Form held true and the Argonauts won the Cup by a score of 35 to 22 in a packed Rogers Center that could have sold out two times over.
The 2007 Grey Cup was also held in Toronto and was sold out with over 50,000 fans on hand.
Attendance for Toronto's Argonauts was up slightly to about 23,000 for the 2012 season. The Argos are averaging about 3,000 more fans per game than last place Montreal. Edmonton still leads the league with an attendance of about 36,000.
There’s also interest in bringing a team to Scotland, Wales, Germany and Ireland.
The NFL has long desired to go to an 18 game schedule but the players have balked. The CFL has been playing a 19 week, 18 game schedule since the 1980s. The regular season goes from June to November, followed by three postseason playoff weeks leading up to the Grey Cup - usually the last weekend of November.
The NFL might be willing to give up its demands for the two extra games if it can get new teams in the places so far discussed.
Let’s break it down city by city and see if we can guess where the NFL will land next.
Chance For a Team
There will be a team in Toronto. It’s like the prettiest girl at a dance. Everybody wants to take her for a twirl. Logistically it’s perfect. It’s in Canada, but is further South than the Vikings, Packers, and Seattle. It’s the number four biggest English speaking area in North America. And many thousands of residents already go to Bills’ games.
Speaking of the Bills, they actually might be shifted to Toronto - instead of having an entirely new team in the city. Upstate New York is a small market by itself and is under economic duress. Bills owner Ralph Wilson is 93 and when he passes on, the team may move on.
Chance For a Team
The Capital of Mexico could be brought into the league the same time a team is returned to Los Angeles. This is bound to happen within the next ten years. The League would love to have a team that can draw 100,000 a game. That's as big as a Soccer crowd in Europe.
Chance For a Team
Who wouldn’t want a team in one of the world’s great cities where American football always brings in upwards of 76,000 fans to Wembley Stadium.
The problem is logistics. Scheduling and travel would be very difficult if there were one team in one place and all the rest of the teams between 4 and 7 thousand miles away.
Germany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Chance For a Team
One or more might be brought in as part of a package with London. They remain, however, the longshots on this tote board.
Nobody knows when the global explosion will take place, but it seems certain that it will happen. There’s too much money involved for this to be taken off the table.
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