It’s year two of Randy Ambrosie’s cross-country, off-season trek.
The Canadian Football League commissioner refers to it as “Randy’s Road Trip” and on Thursday, the 2019 version landed in Edmonton so he could speak with close to 200 Eskimos season-ticket holders at a downtown Boston Pizza.
The tour began in Calgary in last month. Thursday was its last stop in a CFL city, but the tour will officially wrap up at the end of the month in Atlantic Canada, where a game will be played this season and where a 10th franchise may officially take shape in the next few years.
Ambrosie said the topics discussed from city to city have been similar in nature.
“We always get the old chestnut on the challenge flag,” said the former Eskimos offensive lineman who is going into his third season as commissioner. “We have been talking about the possibility of Saturday playoff games, lots of talk about this free agency period — which of course all of you in Edmonton experienced in a very dynamic way.
“The mood among CFL fans has been incredibly positive.”
Whether it was Hamilton, Vancouver, Ottawa or Edmonton, Ambrosie said fans across the country seem to have the same feelings about the league.
“Interestingly enough, on the questions I am asking them, the feedback has been almost perfectly consistent,” he said. “The tone has been positive and for our most loyal fans, the idea of a bigger, stronger CFL really has resonated with them.”
Ambrosie has spent a lot of his off-season talking about CFL 2.0, a move to spread the CFL’s footprint to other areas of the world.
“It’s the perfect time to take our league to the world,” he said. “The world needs more Canada.”
The CFL has reached an agreement with several football organizations around the world, in places like Mexico, France, Italy and Germany. The impact of that will be felt next week at the CFL combine in Toronto, where it is expected that 18 players from Germany, Finland, France, Denmark and Italy will take part.
The focus for the rest of this off-season for Ambrosie is likely going to be a new collective bargaining agreement. The first two meetings between the league and its players’ association took place on Monday and Tuesday of this week in Toronto.
“By all accounts, the first two days were everything we hoped they would be — positive and professional,” he said. “Now we move on to the second week.”
While negotiations continue, the league will keep moving ahead with it’s business plan. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time”
The league and the players’ association will meet again Monday and Tuesday of next week in Calgary.