Former commissioner Mark Cohon: CFL might have to cut costs, produce games with no fans

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Mark Cohon was a successful Canadian Football League commissioner in many ways during his time as the leader.

Cohon served as commish from 2007 through the 2014 CFL season. The league went through a period of major growth including big bumps in ratings on TSN leading to a tripling of television revenue. That TV knowledge has the 54-year-old opining about the CFL strategy for coping with coronavirus pandemic.

“Can you cut your costs and can you produce games? They really have to figure out how to be creative and flexible in these times in how they get through these periods,” Cohon told 980 CJME radio in Regina.

“If you have to play some games with no fans and film it for a TV audience, that might have to be one of the solutions.”

Cohon played a role in helping bring a number of new stadiums to the league and the successful return of the CFL to Ottawa. He also oversaw two separate collective bargaining agreements. The Upper Canada College and Northwestern University graduate has a unique understanding of the financials for each team and league overall.

“Because it’s such a gate-driven league, so many of the teams’ revenues come through the gate — that’s what’s critical. That’s a real challenge,” Cohon said.

Whatever options the CFL is modelling, it would be smart for Randy Ambrosie to heed the advice of Cohon or perhaps setup an information-gathering session. Cohon has experience working for the NBA and MLB which could help the three-down league navigate through unprecedented COVID-19 circumstances.