CFL Season Should Start Earlier

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ZLions
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:25 pm

Hi everyone, in light of the Grey Cup yesterday, I think now would be a good time to talk about this.

I think the CFL should move the season back by a month, or by a couple of weeks at least. Yes playing in the snow was uniquely Canadian and all that. However for CFL teams to practice and play most of their games in decent weather from June-September, and then to go from that, to having to play playoff games - the games that really matter - in late October and November when the weather is way more harsher I don't think is fair to players and teams across the league.

If the CFL moves the season back by a month so it starts sooner and finishes earlier, it would be ideal methinks. Games towards the end of the season and playoffs would be much more suitable for the fans to sit through. Maybe this is one of the ways the CFL could attract more fans in the stands, by playing important games in much more pleasant weather. It would be better for the cheerleaders as well.

Yes, one could argue that playing games in the snow in uniquely CFL and part of our heritage, but moving the season back by a month would mean we get to see better plays and better football, rather than have important games decided in the snow when players can barely see.

This doesn't really affect us here in BC since we have an indoor stadium, but I believe that for every other team they have an outdoor stadium. And in the rest of Canada, right after summer time it can get super cold immediately, like in the Praries where it's like -20 to -30 I've heard.

So should the CFL move its season up to avoid the bad weather? What do you guys think?

B.C.FAN
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:09 pm

Casual fans don’t care about football before September. The old saying that the season doesn’t really start until Labour Day is true. It’s tough to get fans into the stadium in July and August when most British Columbians go of town or hit the beach or water. The Lions have wisely back-loaded their schedule in the past two years to get five home games after Labour Day. That’s when crowds have historically tended to be bigger.

Trying to get people to think of football in June is a non-starter. The Stanley Cup playoffs dominate the sports agenda until the second week of June and they’re quickly followed by he NHL draft and free agency. If you think B.C. Place is empty now, see what happens if the schedule is moved up by a month.

And I don't want to think about starting training camp a month early in late April or Early May. The weather just isn't good enough then to evaluate players and have them bang heads in sloppy conditions, let alone for me to drive the Coquihalla to Kamloops and sit in the open stands at Hillside Stadium.

The new stadiums in Regina and Winnipeg have been designed to protect fans from the harsh Prairie winds and precipitation. Calgary would do well to incorporate similar designs in a new stadium one day. That’s a much better way of accommodating fans than changing the season.
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David
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:17 pm

I've said this before, but I believe the idea of moving the schedule up a month is a colossally bad one for the league in general and this market in particular.

You've seen the first couple of home games here in July each year - there is hardly any buzz, and so many empty seats. I am sure even season ticket holders have trouble unloading tickets. Our attendance generally bears this out. Most people here associate football with the autumn months when a lot of kids play the sport, it's the start of college and NFL etc. Seems like when hockey is over in June, people want to be outside soaking up much needed sun on patios - not going indoors to watch football (other than diehards like us). Now you're potentially front-ending 2-3 more home games before Labour Day? This will be an attendance disaster. :thdn:

One month would put the kick-off to the CFL season smack-dab up against NHL playoffs, at a time when a lot of Canadian teams are starting to get competitive. Baseball is in full swing. There's the Whitecaps too. Sorry, but this is just so wrong on so many levels. There is no guarantee of good weather on the Prairies in October either.


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JohnnyMusso
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:39 pm

I too do not like the idea. Leave it the way it is. Nothing wrong with playing in the snow. It made yesterday's game far more interesting because of it. First game in a long time without BC in it, that I was really into.

Also agree with others competing with the NHL playoffs very bad idea and in the summer people want to be outside, go away on vacations, and not interested much in football.

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Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:56 pm

Agree with the others, football in June is non starter for me. As B.C. Fan have noted, hockey is just ending and the NHL draft is just around the corner. Will take all the attention from the CFL

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Toppy Vann
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Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:51 pm

If there were a lot of good arguments to start earlier, this GC game with two long records for TDs of 100 yards pass and run and 110 yds off a fumble and not the turnovers you might have expected pretty much killed off that momentum for change.

I have heard of a lot of casual fans who watched the game only because it was heavily snowing at the start of the game and who felt that way the Argos had a shot to win.

The NFL has teams in similar weather and they seem to do just fine with their season.

I was never a fan of summer games for the CFL to be honest.

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Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:22 am

Okay guys, points taken, but what about this. According to this article by the Ottawa Sun (I'll link below), apparently the CFL is currently exploring a TV deal with the NFL Network, since its contract with ESPN is almost up. Apparently since the Superbowl ends in February, from May to August the NFL Network is starved for content so CFL games could fill that void, according to a CFL source. In other words, a potential deal with the NFL Network could mean that the CFL moves its season up a month to provide content for the Network with the NFL being out.

The CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie seems to agree with me on moving the season up as well for the reasons I stated earlier. Here's the article

http://ottawasun.com/sports/football/cf ... ish-speaks


Some quotes from the article:

“I’d like to see the Grey Cup earlier, it won’t happen for 2018, but for 2019 it’s possible,” Ambrosie told Postmedia. “I’d like to see it maybe the third week of October. That week, almost everywhere in Canada is a fantastic weekend. I’ve traveled – we’ve lived in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Oakville, Montreal – the third week in October is amazing. The leaves are changing colours. It’s autumn, it’s not cold.

On competing with hockey:

“I’m a hockey guy, too,” said Ambrosie. “You can’t grow up in Winnipeg and not be a hockey fan. Under the right conditions, we could compete with the hockey season for a short period of time when getting outdoors in a purrfect time of year for people to enjoy Canada in its fullest – a night at a stadium with a beer, a hotdog, your family and great football. Can’t we just have a conversation about that being important to Canadians as well?”


Anyways, I think this is a great opportunity for the CFL to capitalize on a deal with the NFL Network. The CFL needs broadcast revenue to survive. I also believe that football isn't a winter sport, and having the Grey Cup in October would be beautiful.

While I agree with you all that competing with the NHL SCF would be rough, Sportsnet does the Stanley Cup Final, not TSN, so I don't think that would be as big an issue. Unless it's a Canadian team playing in the Final, then most people would tune out the CFL, but that won't happen every year, and it would only really affect the first week of the CFL season, maybe the second. But that's it. And if it's two American teams in the SCF (which is how it's been every year since 2011 I believe) I don't think most of the country would really care so much about the SCF so much so that they would completely neglect the CFL opener. Also, the CFL would be good for the fans of Canadian teams that happen to miss the playoffs (like most Canadian NHL teams do all the time unfortunately, or bow out in the first couple rounds)

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Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:35 am

B.C.FAN wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:09 pm

Trying to get people to think of football in June is a non-starter. The Stanley Cup playoffs dominate the sports agenda until the second week of June and they’re quickly followed by he NHL draft and free agency. If you think B.C. Place is empty now, see what happens if the schedule is moved up by a month.
I acknowledge where you all are coming from though, and maybe you all are right. I do agree that early in the season most people don't think about football as much as they do after labour day. I just personally can't help but think that it's a little unfair to the players and fans that the Grey Cup is played when its super cold out rather than in nicer conditions, basically what they've been practicing in all season long.

I was also thinking about how it would be nicer for the cheerleaders to show more skin throughout more of the season, which was pretty stupid of me. I also forgot about the NHL playoffs and draft. So yeah maybe it is better for the CFL season to stay the way it is. A Grey Cup in October would be nice though, but probably not for the best.

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Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:50 am

B.C.FAN wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:09 pm
The new stadiums in Regina and Winnipeg have been designed to protect fans from the harsh Prairie winds and precipitation. Calgary would do well to incorporate similar designs in a new stadium one day. That’s a much better way of accommodating fans than changing the season.
Ironically the biggest push from fans for an earlier season seems to be from those prairie cities. The comforts of those new facilities seems to in turn have them wanting more comforts including weather.
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Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:09 am

TheLionKing wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:56 pm
Agree with the others, football in June is non starter for me. As B.C. Fan have noted, hockey is just ending and the NHL draft is just around the corner. Will take all the attention from the CFL
In addition to the NHL Draft there's also the NFL Draft and logistics of that and how it might impact the CFL Draft and training camps. Move the season up a month and the CFL Draft has to go before the NFL Draft. 2018's NFL draft goes on April 26-28. The Lions 3 day rookie mini-camp is scheduled to start May 24. Move the season up a month and there is little choice but to run the CFL Draft a few weeks before the NFL's Draft and subsequent Priority Undrafted Free Agent signings. It will turn the CFL Draft back into a gambling crapshoot as teams won't know if the higher rated picks will be drafted down south, signed as priority UDFAs or get tryout offers. Any that hang on to wait and at minimum get an NFL mini-camp tryout will effectively be unknowns and best case scenario will miss most or all of their CFL training camps.
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The_Pauser
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Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:27 am

I hate the idea of moving the season up a month. I get what Ambrosie is thinking relative to a deal with the NFL network, but it ignores the massive downside that you're now starting head to head with the NHL playoffs (conference finals and Stanley Cup finals). If you can convince me that the Toronto Argonauts would draw even just 15,000 for a home opener that happens to be on the same day that the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing a conference final or SCF game, let me hear it. Same goes for almost any other team really. I'm not convinced Toronto would see even 5000 fans in that scenario (same with BC, though the Canucks aren't anywhere close to that).

We have also seen attendance spike (even slightly) after Labour Day. Do we really want to lower the amount of post-Labour Day games in favour of earlier games that aren't as well attended?

Rather than partnering with the NFL Network, it might make sense to partner with DAZN which offers streaming of all NFL games anyway, at a cheaper price point.
THINK about it

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WestCoastJoe
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Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:58 am

If Ambrosie pushes the idea of change this fan will not be happy. I like it just the way it is.

Snow for some football games is very nice.

Don't try to please the NFL.

Just IMO ...
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cromartie
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Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:45 am

Oh this bull***t about going after the American market again.

Stop it. Just stop.

Average attendance of games before Labor Day this season was 22,760. The average after labor day, league wide, is 22,200. That's a 2.9% drop. The premise that the weather is the cause of a ratings dip is nonsense. Different individual markets work differently, but in general, you cannot avoid competing with hockey whether its on the front end of the season or the back end, so don't try. Let the end of your season, the most important part, compete against the most inconsequential part of your competitors' (NFL, NHL).

As we've learned, repeatedly and harshly, chasing after significant revenue from the American market is fools gold. What little impact the CFL makes as a television property in the US does no generate revenue and disappears completely once college football starts. The CFL is, and remains, a non-factor after Labor Day, and no shifting of the season is going to change this.

The CFL did not make a significant impact or generate substantial revenue as a full season property in NBCSN.
The CFL did not make a significant impact or generate substantial revenue as a partial season property on NFLN previously.
The CFL did not make a significant impact or generate substantial revenue as a partial season property spread across multiple cable networks previously.
The CFL does not make a significant impact or generate substantial revenue as a partial season property on ESPN.

STOP IT. JUST BLEEPING STOP IT.

The C stands for Canadian. Work harder developing and expanding on the successes you've experienced in your home market. Finish the job in Halifax. Find new ownership in Vancouver. Develop a secure and sustainable franchise in Toronto. Run your season, with a ten team league, from Canada Day to the weekend before US Thanksgiving. Achieve stability, grow your domestic television package as Canada's second most popular sports property, and put together a foreign PPV rights package with summer games on an NFLN or ESPN and make what use of the ancillary revenue you can.

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Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:55 am

WestCoastJoe wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:58 am
If Ambrosie pushes the idea of change this fan will not be happy. I like it just the way it is.

Snow for some football games is very nice.

Don't try to please the NFL.

Just IMO ...
As a fan who has followed the CFL since 1970, I tend to agree. Of course there have been plenty of changes since then--when they had the East Divisional Finals as 2 game total points and the West as a best of 3. Looking back on that, I think I prefer a 1 game winner take all instead.

When Ambrosie mentioned starting the season earlier, I wasn't surprised since he has to create an extra week to balance out the bye week issues. This NFL Network story sheds further light on why he's pushing for it. I think it's quite likely to happen. One thing we need to consider is Millennials don't have the long tradition of harsh conditions being a fact of life for playoff football. It will also result in the GC being hosted in CGY, EDM, SSK and WPG more frequently.

Part of me agrees it's a bad idea, but I think the modern reality is catching up with us old fans.

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Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:08 pm

When the maritimes get a team (and it would appear that is more likely than originally speculated a couple of weeks ago) I don't see how the length of the season can remain the same. But math was never my strong suit.

I think for the league a 10th team would be a huge benefit, one that will outstrip any potential pitfalls or adjusting pains. I have to believe an expansion of the league will result in a longer schedule so which book-end gets changed?

Do we start earlier or play Grey Cups in December? Its a 6 of one, half dozen of another equation in my mind. Pick yer poison....

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