Monday Mailbag: CFL expansion to Windsor, Arash Madani

The 3DownNation Monday Mailbag answers questions from readers across the country every week.

You can submit a question via email ([email protected]) or direct message on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

When submitting questions via email, please type “Monday Mailbag” into the subject line. On social media, please start your message with the words “3DownNation Monday Mailbag.” This really helps us find and manage the questions we get.

Please note that by sending us a question you are giving us the right to publish it along with your name. Questions may be lightly edited for spelling and/or formatting.

We’ve answered a handful of questions below. If your question didn’t get picked, don’t panic — we’ll save it to potentially answer here next week or on the 3DownNation Podcast.

***

The legalization of single-game sports betting is a clear no-brainer to add needed revenues to the CFL, and will no doubt have a positive and meaningful impact on the economics of the league.




I would take the reflection one step further and dig out one insightful possibility not yet raised in all this. I think the legalization of single-game sports betting makes a CFL franchise in Windsor, Ont. a much stronger possibility.

Windsor, Ont. after all has a major Casino on the downtown waterfront and three more across the river in Detroit, Mich., where single-game sports betting was legalized last year. In fact Detroit is the fourth-largest gambling centre in the US after Vegas, Atlantic City and Chicago.

Detroit is also a population centre of more than five million just a bridge or tunnel drive away from Windsor in a state with a population over ten million. What’s more, Windsor itself has a metropolitan area population of approx. 350,000, which is not shabby by CFL standards.

Within a one-hour drive of Windsor there’s probably another 300,000 people in centres like Leamington, Sarnia, and Chatham-Kent. In fact, Windsor was an intriguing possible expansion city before the legalization of single sports betting and maybe this is just the clincher.

-Denis

Thanks for the note, Denis.

It’s become clear that the CFL needs to continue to expand. Halifax should still be priority No. 1, but I think Windsor makes for an intriguing option due to the reasons you outlined above.

Alumni Stadium at Windsor University seats only 2,000 people, which is a major obstacle to overcome. With that said, the CFL’s business model should be moving away from relying on game-day revenue streams such as a gate receipts, parking, and concessions. If most of your money is coming from television and gambling, you don’t need a state-of-the-art venue that seats 35,000. A smaller, simpler stadium can work just fine.

Southern Ontario’s economy is thriving and there is an exploding population to pull from — especially when, as you pointed out, gambling is so popular just south of the border.

Ownership is always the most important factor when considering expansion. If committed, engaged ownership can be found locally, I think there’s a chance that Windsor could support a CFL team.

I’ll also say this: there are major steps the league could take to make owning a CFL team a lot more attractive. At the top of that list is revenue sharing, which the NFL employs to ensure that all 32 teams are financially secure each year.

Wealthy teams like Saskatchewan, Edmonton, and Winnipeg may not like the idea of sending money to Southern Ontario, but it could be a good long-term investment. The CFL needs to grow as a whole and sharing revenue from gate receipts and merchandise would help make that happen.

***

I love your site and the podcast even more. It would be so much better if you guys stopped giving Arash Madani the attention he doesn’t deserve. There are credible journalists in Canada your audience would prefer to hear from.

-Trevor N.

Thanks for the kind words, Trevor.

You’re not the only one who has sent us a message like this about Madani.

Does he speak bluntly? Yes. Does he often criticize the CFL? Yes.

With that said, Madani is one of the best, most well-respected sports journalists in our country. He won the George Gross Award in 2017, which has previously been given to people such as Brian Williams, Chris Cuthbert, Ron MacLean, and Elliotte Friedman. He deserved that honour. It wasn’t a fluke.

Madani is also extremely well-versed in what the CFL is and how it works. He was the communications director for the Ottawa Renegades and held the same role with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after the Renegades folded.

Communications directors know everything. It’s their job to build relationships with coaches, players, personnel people, ownership, and members of the media. There’s a reason why Madani has broken so many CFL stories over the years despite not working for an outlet that regularly covers the league.

Madani covers the Winter and Summer Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, The Masters, and the U.S. Open. We’re lucky that he also covers the CFL.

The CFL doesn’t need more cheerleaders — it needs articulate, well-informed people to hold it accountable. Madani is one of them and we’ll continue featuring him on our website.

Must Read