Randy Ambrosie plans to remain CFL commissioner as long as league’s governors want him

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CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has served in his role for over six years but has no plans to move on from the league’s top job.

“I feel like we’re on the right track, there’s lots of reasons to be thrilled about the results that we’ve had. I also think that those results can be built on and I still have a lot of energy and passion. For me, as long as I have that energy and passion to do the job the way I believe it needs to be done, I’d like to continue,” he said on Tuesday.

“Ultimately, that decision will be made by the board of governors and myself in a conversation but for now, I am just honoured and thrilled to be the commissioner of the CFL. I plan on staying in the job as long as the governors want me to be in it.”

The 60-year-old native of Winnipeg is already the fourth-longest-serving commissioner in CFL history behind only Jake Gaudaur (1968-84), Sydney Halter (1958-66), and Mark Cohon (2007-15). He replaced Jeffrey Orridge in 2017 after the Harvard graduate spent only two years on the job.

Ambrosie admitted that 2020 and 2021 were difficult years for him due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, describing them as “sobering.” The league did not play at all in 2020 and fielded a delayed, truncated schedule in 2021. Despite the challenges, Ambrosie indicated that he came out of that time period with a renewed drive to get the league back on track and help maximize its growth.

“I felt like at the beginning of 2022 that my own personal level of energy was just really back, not only just back to where I was when I started the job in 2017, but I almost felt like it was higher because my level of confidence in where we were going was that much higher,” he said.

“I’m proud to serve as the commissioner of the CFL, I’m proud to serve this group of governors and owners, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do that. At some point, it will be time to pass the baton to somebody else but for now, I’m honored to be in the position.”

The CFL took some positive steps this season as attendance grew by three percent and television ratings increased over 11 percent during the regular season. The league also appears to be thriving in the country’s biggest markets, which were sore spots for the CFL in the not-too-distant past.

The Toronto Argonauts saw a 41.1 percent increase in gameday revenue and sold over 26,000 tickets to the East Final. Amar Doman has breathed new life into the B.C. Lions during his relatively short tenure as the club’s owner, while Pierre-Karl Péladeau has brought some much-needed stability to the Montreal Alouettes since purchasing the team this past winter.

However, significant challenges remain for Ambrosie to try to address. He admitted on Tuesday that the league’s new statistics system functioned poorly this season and apologized for the problems it caused fans and members of the media. He also doubled down on the league’s unpopular operations cap, which limits how many football staff members teams can employ and how much they can be paid, saying the league has no plans to remove it.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes will meet in the 110th Grey Cup on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 p.m. EST.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.