FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — At his annual state-of-the-league press conference Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took some time to discuss the city of Toronto and its status with the league.
“Toronto’s a great market,” the commissioner said. “I think we want to continue to service that market, we have great fans there and it’s a great city. I think we are going to be facing – and I talked to some of the ownership up there — a stadium issue that has to be addressed.
“Their current stadium is a multi-purpose stadium, has a relatively small capacity by NFL standards. And so I think there’s some issues that have to be addressed up there, but it’s a great market.”
And that was it. Los Angeles and Mexico City and London and even Tokyo were afforded more time by Goodell, who seems timid about commenting with depth on the Toronto situation, presumably because of the ties the city has to the Buffalo Bills.
The fact that he even touched on the stadium issues was surprising, which means that truly is a large concern the league has in the rare moments in which it looks into Toronto’s future with the NFL.
This is now obvious: until ground breaks on a new stadium somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area, the NFL will not allow a team to play in the city on a permanent basis. I think that’s already something potential purchasers like Rogers Communications and MLSE are aware of, and I expect the wheels to be in motion on that in the next three or four years.
Someone — I’m just speculating here, but probably MLSE’s Larry Tanenbaum — is reportedly making a big push to buy the St. Louis Rams and move them to Toronto. If that doesn’t pan out, you can expect the Jaguars, Bills and Chargers to come into play.
But before anything happens, that “stadium issue” should take precedence.