After the success in recent years that has come from the CFL’s annual Touchdown Atlantic game, rumblings and rumors have began circling that the league indeed wants to explore a similar format to bring the CFL to other Canadian cities. The idea would be that one team moves one home game to another relatively nearby location, giving people outside of the traditional nine CFL markets a chance to watch professional football and hopefully increase overall league awareness and support.
It’s unlikely that every team will give up a home game should this idea get taken forward. But as a fun thought experiment (after all, it’s the off-season), here are nine cities that would be perfect for each team to host their own more local version of Touchdown Atlantic.
BC Lions – Victoria, British Columbia
This seems like a safe and rather easy choice. Despite being just three hours away, Victoria and Vancouver are separate by the Pacific Ocean, making the journey from Victoria to Vancouver a bigger commitment than just a normal drive, and enough to put off potentially thousands of fans who are deterred by strict ferry schedules and fees.
Bringing a game to the island would be perfect for establishing the Lions as a team the island can get behind. Vancouver Island until recently has been an afterthought when it comes to sports, and if done correctly could be an incredible experience, complete with unique Vancouver island culture and an absolutely beautiful backdrop for the game. Pacific FC’s Starlight Stadium gives the CFL a stadium to work with, and with the ambition of a growing soccer club and growing football club combined, I’m sure a ‘Touchdown Pacific’ would be a great success!
Calgary Stampeders – Bozeman, Montana
Ok here me out…I know what you’re thinking, isn’t the point of this to grow the CFL in local markets? That’s true for the most part, but it’s also important for the CFL to win over new markets, and Montana – a border state that doesn’t have any professional teams is the perfect target market.
Calgary is the closest team to Montana, making them the perfect team to host a ‘Touchdown Big Sky’. Bozeman is in a central location in relation to its distance to Great Falls, Billings, Helena, and Missoula. On top of that, it also has the 20,000-capacity Bobcat Stadium which could host the game with no problem.
Edmonton Elks – Fort McMurray, Alberta
Edmonton has history with playing games at Fort McMurray. In 2015, the Elks played two games at SMS Equipment Stadium against Saskatchewan and Toronto.
Fort McMurray has proven in the past it has the stadium needed, and if marketed properly should be able to garner success in bringing professional football to northern Alberta. Plus at the rate the Elks are going…maybe it will take a ‘Touchdown North’ for them to finally win a home game!
Saskatchewan Roughriders – Bismark, North Dakota
As a brand, no CFL team is bigger than the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Across the country, you’ll find Riders fans everywhere, this team doesn’t need to go anywhere in Canada to grow and get its name out there, that mission is accomplished. Which is why it makes perfect sense for Saskatchewan to also go south of the border.
North Dakota is directly south of Saskatchewan, and like every other state loves its football. Just like Montana, there is no college football to compete with (assuming this hypothetical game is planned accordingly). A strong combination of both Riders fans and Bismark natives will attend the game and make it a lot of fun and an enjoyable atmosphere at Bismarck’s MDU resources bowl stadium. After all, North Dakota is known as the ‘rough rider state’ – it’s perfect! Hopefully, we can convince some more Americans along the way to enjoy the three-down game at ‘Touchdown Prairies’.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Thunder Bay, Ontario
The biggest town in northwest Ontario, Thunder Bay is the next sizeable settlement east of Winnipeg, and as north Ontario lacks any professional sports team representation – Thunder Bay is a perfect location for Winnipeg to play.
With the addition of temporary seats, Fort William stadium could be used to host a Winnipeg Blue Bombers game and bring a ‘Touchdown Lake Superior’ to Thunder Bay.
Hamilton Tiger Cats – London, Ontario
The next three teams are all based in southern Ontario, which is the most populated part of Canada and as such, the plan should be to explore different cities and markets in southern Ontario. In the case of Hamilton, I’ve chosen London, home of the U-Sports based Western Mustangs.
London from time to time pops up as a long-shot expansion city for the CFL, and it’s easy to see why. The Mustangs have a long tradition of winning eight Vanier Cups and healthy local support and combined with a sizeable stadium and large metro population makes it ideal for a ‘Touchdown West’. In 2002, Western Alumni stadium hosted a sold-out game between Toronto and Hamilton, if it can work before – it can work again.
Toronto Argonauts – Waterloo, Ontario
Situated just an hour outside of Toronto, Waterloo is located within the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area, which combined is the tenth largest metro area in the country.
Waterloo is home to two possible stadiums, Warrior Field and University Stadium, University Stadium is home to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, and it’s larger capacity makes it more suitable to host a ‘Touchdown KWC’.
Ottawa Redblacks – Kingston, Ontario
Two hours south of Ottawa, Kingston is very similar to London in terms of having a history of football. In fact, the local college team Queen’s Gaels have even win the Grey Cup three times! They won the Grey cup three consecutive years from 1922-1924 and have also won four Vanier Cups.
What comes with that is the new 8,000 seater Richardson Memorial Stadium. A modern and slick looking stadium that would provide a great backdrop for a ‘Touchdown Limestone City’
Montreal Alouettes – Quebec City, Quebec
Perhaps the most obvious suggestion on this list, Quebec City is always on everyone’s lips when it comes to CFL expansion, and bringing a ‘ game to Quebec City seems like only a matter of time if the league is at all serious about possible expansion.
Telus Stadium could in theory host an expansion team tomorrow, while Montreal Alouettes would become natural provincial rivals of a Quebec City team, it’s still the only team in the province and would bring a crowd. The city has hosted two CFL games before, and it’s about time it hosts another and we bring a ‘Capitale du toucher’ to the good people of Quebec City.
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