Whilst Canadians love to see their teams shine against American opposition in leagues like the NHL, MLB, and MLS, we also have beloved domestic leagues that give fans all across Canada to see their cities face off for the chance to be domestic champions. Football, soccer, and basketball are all popular sports in Canada, and with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to add at least three expansion teams to each league.
*The Vancouver CPL expansion team is exempt from this list, as they are fully confirmed and will begin play in 2023*
Three Expansion CFL Teams
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is perhaps the most obvious and high-profile expansion destination for the Canadian Football League to expand into. In 2018, an ownership group made their intention to bring football to Halifax clear, and had the blessing of the CFL itself in being their 10th team. Since then, the fate of the team has been in limbo, mostly due to stadium financing and the impact of the pandemic since that initial 2018 announcement. But the CFL isn’t giving up.
This season they are bringing back a regular-season game to the Nova Scotia at Wolfville’s Raymond Field. There is the option for a maritime team to play games out of New Brunswick whilst a potential stadium in Halifax is built, and if the team can get off the ground, I imagine this would be the most likely short term outcome.
Potential name: Atlantic Schooners – This was confirmed as the team name in 2018 and harkens back to the first attempt to bring football to Halifax in 1982. That potential team was also called the Atlantic Schooners.
Quebec City, Quebec
Probably the second most talked about city in terms of CFL expansion, Quebec City does have some qualities that make it an interesting prospect for any CFL expansion. The first is that football already has a footprint in the city. The U Sports side, University of Laval Rouge et Or, have been the dominant force in Canadian collegiate football, winning the Vanier Cup a record ten times since 1999. The Rouge et Or have one of the best support in all of U Sports football, and their stadium, Stade Telus, has had an attendance of just under 20,000 for a Laval regular reason game in 2019. They also regularly have amongst the highest attendances at the college level.
The stadium itself has hosted two CFL games, and is commonly chosen to host Vanier Cup games. Any team in Quebec City would be dependent on the Montreal Alouettes agreeing to it, and Laval university allowing the potential expansion team to use the Stade Telus.
Potential name: Quebec Bulldogs – The Quebec Bulldogs were the first NHL team based out of the city, famously winning two Stanley Cups, and if you’re going to harken back to an old name, you may as well pick one synonymous with success.
Perhaps the biggest longshot on the list, London does have some factors going its way that means it’s not an entire impossibility that the CFL could play out of the south western Ontario city. Like Quebec, the city of London has a football tradition. The University of Western Mustangs are the most successful team in Ontario college football, and have won eight Vainer Cups.
The Mustangs play out of Western Alumni Stadium, an 8,000-capacity stadium that while very much a college stadium, it has room to expand and could be used temporarily. While London itself has a metro population of just 543,551, its close proximity to Windsor, Sarnia, and the border with Michigan would give it the opportunity to build up a fan base.
Potential name: London Bats – Bats can be commonly found commonly in London, and I think “London Bats” has a good ring to it.
Three Expansion CPL Teams
I’m going to cheat here and include two teams in this spot, as I think it would be great for the league to have them brought in together. Saskatoon seems inevitable, there is an ownership group in place and stadium plans have been drawn up, it’s just a case of getting that stadium built now. Meanwhile, an upcoming friendly match between CF Montreal and Sunderland at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium is being touted as a litmus test to see how viable soccer and a CPL team is in Saskalctewans capital.
Having both brought into the league would instantly give the league another rivalry fixture, something that would be unique to the CPL as neither city face off against the other in a professional senior league. The CPL doesn’t require as big a market as the CFL does, so it’s within the realm of possibility that the province could easily support two CPL teams.
Potential team names: Queen City FC (Regina) and Bridge City FC (Saskatoon) – Both names are related to the nicknames of their respective cities. Bridge City has been touted as a potential Saskatoon team name for some time, and having Regina being called Queen City would give both teams unique and city distinct names.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
Moncton, New Brunswick
Similar to Regina, Sunderland is also playing a friendly in Moncton’s Croix-Bleue Medavie Stadium against Toronto, and given the reasons behind the fixture in Regina, it’s not hard to imagine that a successful turnout wouldn’t also bring about calls for a team in New Brunswick. We have seen with HFX Wanderers that soccer can thrive, in the Maritimes, and giving Moncton a team and us an Atlantic derby would be fantastic for the league.
Potential team name: New Brunswick United – With Moncton having a population of only 157,717, it would make sense for the team to refer to itself as New Brunswick’s team and market itself to the 797,102 people who call the province home. A name like United is iconic in soccer, and would serve to signify the intent of uniting the province around the team.
Perhaps the biggest thing missing from the CPL right now is that there is no team in Quebec. In that case, Montreal is perhaps the most obvious choice for the CPL to expand into the province. Whilst there is already an MLS team in the city, that hasn’t deterred the CPL from putting teams in other MLS cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
Montreal is a passionate sports city, but recently supporters of CF Montreal have been at odds with ownership, and a new CPL Montreal team could reach out to those disgruntled supporters and immediately have a supporters base. Quebec deserves to have a CPL team, and placing an expansion team in Montreal would be a great start to then hopefully further Quebec’s expansion.
Potential team name: CF Royal de Montreal – Whilst it was very tempting to go with Montreal Impact, this is a separate team that should have a separate name and identity. Mount Royal is a famous landmark in the city, and the basis of the name Montreal. Overall, it rolls off the tongue pretty well too.
Three Expansion CEBL Teams
Vancouver, British Columbia/Winnipeg, Manitoba/Calgary, Alberta
I’m putting these three cities together as the reasons for expanding into them are all the same. Vancouver, Winnipeg and Calgary are all three of the biggest cities in Canada, and all three are the biggest in their respective provinces. All three are major sports hubs in Canada, and all three would have basketball suitable arenas that can be used immediately.
What’s more, with the existence of the Edmonton Stingers (Calgary), Fraser Valley Bandits (Vancouver) and Saskatchewan Rattlers (Winnipeg), all three teams would have natural immediate rivals that could be used to help market the young league in those respective leagues. Not to mention, it has been twenty years since the Grizzlies of the NBA left Vancouver, and it would be great to bring professional basketball back to Vancouver!
Potential Team Names
Vancouver Kodiaks – Vancouver, of course, was the host to the only other Canadian NBA team, the Grizzlies. Sticking with the bear theme, Vancouver gets to go with the Kodiaks, referencing, of course, Kodiak bears that can be found in western Canada.
Calgary Rockies – Calgary is famously located by the Rocky Mountains, something which isn’t currently referenced in the name of any of Calgarys sports teams. Naturally, the Rocky Mountains are very tall, and in a sport where height is advantageous, the Calgary Rockies just seems like the perfect name.
Winnipeg Polar Bears – Whilst not necessarily related, Manitoba is famous for polar bears that can be found in the Manitoba town of Churchill. It’s a moniker you cant go wrong with. Polar bears are apex predators that are iconic animals. Not to mention, they have all-white fur, which would give the team a perfect reason to adopt all-white uniforms, as Winnipeg is famous for their “white-out” playoff matches.
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