Former Toronto Argos owner David Cynamon: CFL ‘living on the edge financially’

Former Toronto Argonauts owner David Cynamon knows the financial realities of the CFL very well.

The 57-year-old Edmonton native was part owner of the Argos from 2003 to 2010.

“In Toronto, it was a passion of love. It’s a big challenge. And it’s a struggle,” Cynamon told CBC reporter Devin Heroux.

While Cynamon owned the double blue, the Argos won the Grey Cup in 2004 when Michael “Pinball” Clemons became the first black head coach to lead a Canadian franchise to the CFL championship. Despite the on-field success, the bottom line was never in the black, the boatmen lost money during his six years at the helm of the ship.

Therefore it was no shock to Cynamon when current CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie revealed to the standing committee on finance, collectively, teams lose between $10 and $20 million dollars a season while asking for Canadian government financial aid due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“When you’re living on the edge financially anyway and then you take away a material amount of your revenue and your in-stadium advertising and everything that comes with it, it cannot function and it doesn’t work,” Cynamon said.

“This is an invisible enemy that we relied on government to protect us from and I just don’t believe in economic lines being drawn when it’s nobody’s fault. I can’t accept the bullet being shot from the gun by something of a pandemic like this that nobody asked for.”

Ambrosie asked for $30 million in working capital to maintain operations through the pandemic and estimates the league could need as much as an additional $120 million over the next two years — if the most negative scenarios, all of them, come true.

Cynamon told Heroux he believes the federal government needs to help the CFL and inevitably will because many Canadians have jobs in and around the league when it’s operating full force.

“Those individuals that were working the concession or the jersey stores or the beer concession or selling magazines, they are the people that are affected,” Cynamon said.

“It’s all just us Canadians behind it and that’s the real unfortunate suffering that goes on and that’s the part that really bothers me the most.”