Grey Cup runneth over: Conference Board of Canada assesses potential markets for future CFL franchises

OTTAWA, Nov. 22, 2011 /CNW/ - Six cities - Ottawa, Quebec City, London, Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, Halifax, and Moncton - have the necessary economic market conditions to make Canadian Football League teams potentially viable within their communities.

A Conference Board of Canada analysis (, part of its ongoing series on the professional sports market in Canada, assesses how many more cities could compete for the Grey Cup sometime in the future.

"There is definitely room for more than eight teams in the Canadian Football League, based on our analysis of the population size, income levels and corporate headquarters of potential markets," said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies. "Market conditions are fundamental to the viability of any professional sports franchise. However, when considering future CFL franchises, new or significantly upgraded playing facilities and dedicated ownership are also crucial factors in the potential growth of the league."

The Conference Board's Playing in the Big Leagues ( series has identified four market pillars for successful professional sports teams:

  • Population size - a market needs to be both large enough and growing in population
  • Income- a market must have a relatively high disposable per capita income
  • Corporate presence - corporations can be tapped for sponsorship and high-end ticket sales; and
  • A level playing field - since the CFL plays only in Canada, exchange rates and taxation issues are minimal factors for franchise success.

Currently an eight-team operation, the CFL plans to expand by adding a franchise in Ottawa over the next couple of years. By the Conference Board's market measures, Ottawa has the population size, income and corporate presence to host a CFL team, although two different franchises have failed in this area over the past 15 years. With a rebuilt playing facility planned and an ownership group in place, a franchise is expected to take the field in 2014.

On the basis of population, income and corporate headquarters, Québec City would appear to be next in line for a CFL franchise. The Québec City economy has been one of the best performing in the country (east of Saskatchewan) over the past decade. Quebec City also has shown substantial support for its highly-successful Rouge et Or football team at Université Laval. But the focus in Québec City is on acquiring a National Hockey League team - it is therefore less likely that resources can be directed toward the goal of obtaining a CFL franchise, at least over the next few years.

Two more potential CFL markets are located in Canada's Atlantic provinces: Halifax and Moncton. With a population of slightly over 400,000 people, Halifax would be a relatively small urban market for the CFL. And Moncton itself is home to only a little over 125,000 residents as per the 2006 Census, making it even smaller than the league's current smallest market - Regina.

"For both Halifax and Moncton, the local markets alone are not large enough to ensure long-term viability. If and when a team comes to the Maritimes, its ownership will have to work especially hard to market the team as a regional franchise," said Lefebvre.

Moncton, however, has gained the nickname of "Hub City" because of its central location in the region. It also has a playing facility that is almost CFL-ready, Moncton Stadium, which has hosted CFL regular season games the past two years. For these reasons, the Conference Board sees Moncton as having an edge in obtaining a CFL franchise for Atlantic Canada.

London and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge (KCW) also have market conditions that would put them in the discussion about franchises. Of the two, London has a larger stadium (although still not CFL-calibre) and is a little farther geographically than KCW is relative to the existing franchises of Toronto and Hamilton. Kitchener has the advantage of a wealthier market when it comes to income per capita.

Neither city, however, should be regarded as high probabilities for a franchise. While the Conference Board analysis indicates that London has more in its favour than KCW, another CFL franchise in Southern Ontario is unlikely. Both London and KCW are within a couple hours drive of two CFL teams (Hamilton and Toronto) and two National Football League teams (in Buffalo and Detroit), so an additional franchise in Southern Ontario could take the area beyond its "football saturation point".

Fantasy Football! How Many Teams Could There Be in the Canadian Football League? ( is the 11th in the Conference Board's series Playing in the Big Leagues: What Makes a Professional Sports Team Successful in Canada? (


For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext.  448

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