Mosaic’s Push to Host NFL Games is Misplaced

The corporation that runs Mosaic Stadium says it is interested in being considered as a host venue for NFL games.

“We certainly would have interest in hosting NFL regular-season games with the support of the leagues and under the right scenario,” said Regina Exhibition Association Ltd communications manager Sabeen Ahmad in a statement.

What prompted this was the NFL announcing an extension of its regular season to 17 games starting in 2022. Essentially that means four games per year would be played at venues outside of the US, including Canada. The others would be in Europe, the UK, Mexico and possibly South America.

You will remember that we have been down this road before. In 2019, the Las Vegas Raiders (they were Oakland then) wanted to play a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in Canada and Mosaic was the initial frontrunner to host it.

However, as the game had to be played on a Friday night, the Saskatchewan Roughriders put the kybosh on it saying there would not be enough turn-around time to get the field ready for their Canadian Football League game the next day.

So, in the wake of the Roughriders’ rejection, IG Field in Winnipeg hosted the game and that could hardly be called a big success.

The point here is that it would be counterproductive for any CFL team to roll out the red carpet for NFL teams. Do you think the NFL would allow another football code onto its patch?

There has been a lot of discussions lately about how the CFL can turn things around after scrapping the 2020 season because of the pandemic. Partnering with the XFL is one suggestion that has popped up. Another hot topic is that younger Canadians are less interested in the CFL than they are in the NFL, although that is not backed up by any official statistics or data.

NFL games are accessible to Canadians on TV anyway and have been for decades, but it’s a totally different ball of wax to play an NFL game in Canada, especially during the CFL season. That would be totally counterproductive to the CFL because the fact of the matter is that in a very real sense, the CFL and NFL are rivals. That is certainly the case in Canada.

In the United States, the NFL is the undeniable king of sports. It rakes in a ton more money than any other professional sport by a country mile and even considering a decline in TV viewership numbers in recent years because of fans’ negative reaction to the national anthem protests by some players instigated by Colin Kaepernick, it continues to dominate television ratings, certainly in terms of sports.

And apart from its TV dominance, pre-COVID-19, the NFL sold out every game every week in big stadiums filling its coffers with even more dollars. That will most likely be the case again once herd immunity is achieved.

So, it’s not as if the NFL needs to make inroads in Canada. It doesn’t. At a tenth of the population of the US, Canada is a substantially smaller market so naturally, the CFL won’t ever reap the TV viewership numbers that the NFL commands, nor its revenues.

But what is at stake here is the CFL’s future. If Mosaic starts hosting NFL games every year, and with it all the hoopla that comes with the NFL, eventually it could erode the CFL’s standing in Canada. Heck, there could even come a time when the three-down game just capitulates to its four-downs big brother.

So, given that, why does anyone think it would make any sense at all for a CFL team to share its venue with NFL teams?

Look, the CFL is Canada’s own unique brand of football with a long and storied history. As such, it should be doing all it can to enhance its position in the Canadian marketplace.

That means saying to these guys in Regina, you would be better served by expending your energies on promoting the Saskatchewan Roughriders and their big games, rather than kowtowing to a code that could arguably become the eventual demise of the CFL.

Giving the okay to NFL teams to play games in a CFL stadium, particularly during the Canadian season, is shooting yourself in the foot because you would be turning much-needed attention away from your own game.

In a corporate setting, do you think for one minute that one company would willingly give a competitor a leg up? Hell no, there would be way too much to lose.

When it comes to football, it’s not a bad thing for CFL teams to be totally parochial to the exclusion of the NFL.

Published by @BrianDavidLowe

Professional journalist with 30+ years experience. Background in broadcast news, digital media and sports writing. The Canadian Football League is my sporting passion.

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