Despite pandemic blow, CFL commissioner optimistic for future after ‘long-overdue’ changes

Click to play video: 'CFL fans flood Hamilton for Grey Cup party 2 years in the making' CFL fans flood Hamilton for Grey Cup party 2 years in the making
It's been a turbulent time for the CFL during the pandemic. A cancelled season in 2020 and the league's future in question.But the commissioner says the league used a crisis to take care of some long overdue issues – Dec 10, 2021

You would think the last two years were a stretch the CFL would not want to look back on.

The troubles include a cancelled season, the Grey Cup not being presented in 2020, and questions about the league’s future.

But at his State of the League address on Friday, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the league used the crisis to take care of some “heavy lifting that was long overdue.”

Ambrosie said the league has restructured its business model to give it a “much stronger financial foundation. It includes, for the first time in 40 years, a revenue-sharing model.

“How do you make sure that the stronger teams are standing shoulder to shoulder next to their partners and not letting their partners suffer in silence, but rather joining arms and helping each other?” Ambrosie said.

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The league has created an environment and philosophy that should help all teams, he said. “If they do most of the right things, all teams can and should be able to break even.”

RELATED: Bombers report $7-million loss in 2020 due to loss of CFL season

Despite the optimism from the commissioner, the CFL’s 2021 return season featured lower attendance in several markets, plus a drop in scoring in a league that prides itself on its offence.

“We have to ask good questions now and talk to our fans and we have to understand and ask, like Apple does its business, ‘why?’ as opposed to ‘what?'”

The league has also entered into a deal with sports and data technology company Genius Sports with a goal of accelerating the league’s growth plans and engaging new audiences around the world.

“This is for us the opportunity we’ve been looking for, … a catalyst to drive our business in a new and positive direction,” Ambrosie said

And while the presentation of the Grey Cup this Sunday marks the end of this CFL season, Ambrosie said the work to improve the future is only beginning.

“On 9:15 Monday morning, we get up and we go to work and we start working with the teams on exactly how to implement the opportunity that lies in front of us. How fast? I can’t answer, but certainly a lot faster than ever in our history before.”


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