Toronto may have a full-time National Football League team of its own by 2013.
That’s the hope of Toronto councilor Doug Ford, who was talking about the NFL on Monday during the kickoff for the Toronto Argonauts’ plans to host the 2012 Grey Cup.
Ford and his brother Rob, the mayor of Toronto, have openly stated they would like to bring an NFL team to Toronto.
“I’ll tell you one thing: before our four-year term is up (in 2013), hopefully we’ll have an NFL team,” Ford said.
Toronto’s zest for an NFL team first began in the 1970s, fuelled by Metro Chairman Paul Godfrey, who moved from politics to business in 1984 but hasn’t given up his hope. The difference is Godfrey, now the publisher of the National Post, has the Ford brothers backing him.
“Paul’s going to be working with us, so we’re pretty confident,” Doug Ford said. “How could the NFL keep ignoring the fourth-largest market in North America? You can’t. Find six million people. They have small little markets in the NFL that are struggling like Jacksonville than can barely crack 20,000 (people) a game. You bring it to Toronto and we’ll see what happens.”
Ford drew the ire recently of New Orleans by indicating in an article that he thought Toronto had a chance to acquire the Saints. He claimed it was an off-the-cuff remark and later apologized to the city and the state of Louisiana, which collectively voice their displeasure.
He also cited some other teams, including the Jaguars and noted he didn’t receive one phone call from Jacksonville.
“I got their attention all right,” he said of the Saints. “But what happened to New Orleans a few years ago before Katrina? They were having issues. Let’s just pray to God New Orleans can finance their team for the next five to six years, and I’m confident they can.”
Ford said he did not receive any feedback from the NFL head office for his remarks.
Toronto is heading into the fourth year of a five-year series that will bring the Buffalo Bills to town for a regular season game. Toronto has not embraced the series, due to the struggling Bills and the exorbitant ticket prices.
Ford said he’s not surprised the Bills’ games haven’t been more warmly received in Toronto.
“The Bills are not our team. They’re a loaner team,” he said. “I don’t believe in ever going after the Buffalo Bills. I think it will be a great rivalry to get that high-speed ferry going across the lake, 26,000 (people), wow, what a boost. The Buffalo Bills fans are the most loyal in the country. They’re very loyal to the team. But we don’t control the ownership.”
Ford said the value of the NFL would provide an economic boost to Toronto and would create thousands of jobs. The Fords have drawn ire for pushing the NFL idea, which some people say will come at the expense of the Canadian Football League and, in particular, the Argos.
“If a Fortune 500 company comes to the city should I keep my mouth shut?” he asked.’
“No, I’m not going to. I’m a big supporter of the CFL. The CFL is first and foremost right now, but if there’s an opportunity for a Fortune 500 company like the NFL to come to town and create thousands and thousands of jobs and support the CFL, that would be great. What’s the number one issue with the CFL? Not fans, no loyalty, it all comes to money, and what better company to come along than the NFL to support the CFL. It makes sense. It’s all about the money, folks.”