Roger Goodell talks to the media Friday.

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.

Comments (34)

  1. NFL to Toronto kills the CFL. Don’t do it, Roger.

    • No ody cares about the CFL in Toronto.
      Cities with a fifth the population get more people out to CFL games.
      Toronto needs and NFL team.

  2. Bring the Bills here. The CFL is garbage quality football. The players are substandard. Bring in a real team. Real fans.

  3. We don’t want the NFL in Toronto. Toronto already has the Argos, and the Bills are Buffalo’s team.

    Support OUR game! (CFL)
    Keep the Bills in Buffalo!

  4. No it wont everyone who cant afford nfl will go watch cfl plus with people like you there will be lots of people that will still watch cfl for loyalty but u r forgetting the fact that the NFL season starts 8 weeks after the cfl thats half a season so dont worry. NFL in TO

  5. so the cfl sucks and so do the argos!!!!! toronto will welcome an nfl team with their arms open !!! NFL COME TO CANADA

  6. EricM, what are you talking about, at least there is a lost of scoring in the cfl, no 17-14 like the sissy NFL plays.

  7. I’ve been saying for years Toronto is a big enough city that deserves a 70,000+ seat natural grass stadium. The Sky Dome is possibly one of the worst venues ever built.. when you go to watch a baseball game there it feels more like a concerete dungeon then a real ball park. An NFL team here would be amazing!! The CFL is the biggest joke and i hope it folds!!!!

  8. the cfl sucks its all the players who would rather be in the nfl. i hope TO gets a team that would be amazing

  9. Sorry, Roger, but we learnt our lesson by paying through the nose for one stadium – and at least SkyDome is in use 90+ times per year.

    500 million for a dozen home dates? No way. Find some other city dumb enough to fall into your trap.

  10. the leafs and raptors were great markets but i feel the NFL would produce the same effect as the blue jays nobody cares and its sooo painful to watch the few people who do care watch a ownership that has no clue what its doing in that market and make mistakes. I really dont want to have another team like that in TO.

    and no the CFL doesnt suck, players want to bolt because theres more money in the NFL, which is a multi-million dollar company. The talent level may not be as a great in the CFL but that doesnt make the league any less exciting.

  11. The NFL are not comming to TO unless at the least Rogers builds a 600+ mill. stadium aint going to happen why waste are breath.

  12. I am surprised that we are even discussing this seriously. With the lack of fan support for football by people in Toronto for the Argos it is mind boggling that the NFL is seriously contemplating putting a team there. When many of the tickets to the Bills games are being given away, it does not bode well for a NFL team. If the city of Toronto wants a new stadium this will be a huge issue for the citizens of Toronto and tax payers. It should not be considered.

  13. the cfl will always survive ..its pocket change to keep it alive by nfl standards…..for those of you in toronto wait til you see how much it costs you to love and support your dream…you will pay dearly through some tax,phone bill or just buying the shirts…good luck

  14. Toronto deserves an NFL franchise. With a metropolitan population exceeding 5 million, it’s only plausible for the NFL to consider Toronto as a legitimate and viable destination for certain struggling NFL organizations (such as the franchise in St. Louis). Having a team in Southern Ontario would have some negative ramifications as well – the CFL could wither away as a result, and the Buffalo Bills’ overall market may dilute (since there are, on average, around 15 000 Canadians attending the Bills’ home games). However, that’s a pessimistic outlook on what could be a very advantageous situation. Rogers Communications and MLSE both have the capital needed to build a new, world-class stadium. And, to be frank, since Toronto is a world-class city, it deserves a better facility than the Rogers Centre (the Rogers Centre, by contemporaneous standards, is terrible). This stadium could fortify subsequent Olympic bids by the city as well. As for the CFL, it won’t die as a result of a Canadian NFL franchise. Rather, as someone already noted, it will be looked upon as the “alternative” for fans who appreciate a fast brand of football, or those who simply don’t have the fiscal stability to attend NFL games. All in all, it’s incredulous to assume that a city as large as Toronto could not accommodate a NFL franchise. It may take a few years, but, sooner or later, Torontonians would develop an affinity for the team, just as they have for the Raptors (who now consistently rank in the top 10 in attendance and are the 11th most valuable NBA franchise).

    Whether or not a deal to send a current NFL team to Toronto manifests is a question that nobody can answer at the moment. However, considering the logistics of it all, Toronto has the ability to support a NFL franchise, and the pros of having a team here supersede the cons.

  15. Please don’t bring and NFL team to Toronto because they will be just as bad as all the other Toronto teams that we have in this city. The city of Buffalo deserves to keep their franchise in that city. If they bring the team over the border the prices of tickets will be ridiculous. If you want to see an NFL game go over the border and watch the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium the tickets and the gas will cost you less than a pair of tickets in Toronto. KEEP THE BILLS IN BUFFALO

  16. Bring the NFL to toronto the cfl is garbage no one watches that plz rogers bring toronto and nfl team or host one superbowl here:)

  17. Toronto deserves an NFL franchise. With a metropolitan population exceeding 5 million, it’s only plausible for the NFL to consider Toronto as a legitimate and viable destination for certain struggling NFL organizations (such as the franchise in St. Louis). Having a team in Southern Ontario would have some negative ramifications as well – the CFL could wither away as a result, and the Buffalo Bills’ overall market may dilute (since there are, on average, around 15 000 Canadians attending the Bills’ home games). However, that’s a pessimistic outlook on what could be a very advantageous situation. Rogers Communications and MLSE both have the capital needed to build a new, world-class stadium. And, to be frank, since Toronto is a world-class city, it deserves a better facility than the Rogers Centre (the Rogers Centre, by contemporaneous standards, is terrible). This stadium could fortify subsequent Olympic bids by the city as well. As for the CFL, it won’t die as a result of a Canadian NFL franchise. Rather, as someone already noted, it will be looked upon as the “alternative” for fans who appreciate a fast brand of football, or those who simply don’t have the fiscal stability to attend NFL games. All in all, it’s incredulous to assume that a city as large as Toronto could not accommodate a NFL franchise. It may take a few years, but, sooner or later, Torontonians would develop an affinity for the team, just as they have for the Raptors (who now consistently rank in the top 10 in attendance and are the 11th most valuable NBA franchise).

    Whether or not a deal to send a current NFL team to Toronto manifests is a question that nobody can answer at the moment. However, considering the logistics of it all, Toronto has the ability to support a NFL franchise, and the pros of having a team here supersede the cons.

  18. Haha, why’d you re-paste my post ^? I agree with your Super Bowl pick nevertheless.

  19. Toronto will continue to get NFL games for preseason, realistically Toronto is not on the NFL radar for expansion, or relocation.

    1) Toronto is a hockey town period, it’s the only franchise that pockets cash and doesn’t have to win
    2) Raptors only have a high ticket base because MLSE requires Leafs season ticket holders to purchase Raptors tickets, in order to get Leafs.
    3) The Bills regular season experience in T.O has been a failure
    4) Toronto would not get any money from the US TV contract, a team in Toronto would include huge ticket prices, a loser team, and we all know how well teams that don’t win in T.O do, just look at the Jays.

    So scream how much you hate CFL football and cause you do that must been everybody else does, or cause there is a huge population base that somehow it makes Toronto worthy of being more American.

    Guess this discussion will continue again for the next decade as NFL fans in the GTA cry over wanting a team and realize killing the Argos will do nothing . If any one thinks that MLSE or Rogers is going to invest 100% into a modern day stadium without government support is kidding themselves. If you want NFL that bad go to Buffalo, or hang around Rogers Center to get free tickets before game to watch the Bills. They had to paper the place twice to look good on camera I’m sure you can get a deal. Governments shouldn’t be spending money on greedy owners for a new stadium they should be dealing with real issues education cuts, and taking care of a crippled health care system.

  20. I love the NFL but don’t want it in Canada, the Bills and all NFL teams should stay in the US. The CFL is Canada’s league and the Grey Cup Canada’s championship, our national championship. Sure the NFL has the best playes on average, they can pay the big bucks. The CFL’s mandate is different, we make sure enough Canadians get an opportunity to play.

    I don’t have a problem if people don’t want to follow our league, that’s their decision. I love all football because I’m a true football fan. The CFL is part of Canadian history and lore. As a long time season ticket holder for the Cats and someone who has taken in many NFL games, I love both league, I have more class than some to trash an great Canadian insitution like our CFL.

    The Grey Cup will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the game in 2012 and Toronto will be partying, I’ll be there and lots of CFL and Canadian football fans will be. I hope the “NFL only counts fans” stay home and they will thank goodness.

    Go TiCats Go!

  21. @soundmonster

    Your grossly misinformed

    1) All 3 of the Raptors, Blue Jays, and Toronto FC all made money or broke even last year. So much for “hockey town only.”

    2) Not all Leaf seat holders need to purchase both Raptors and Leafs. Some do, some don’t. Either way it’s not that uncommon as many franchises do the same thing. Atlanta does it and Thrashers attendance numbers around 8000.

    3) The Bills regular season games in Toronto are ridiculously overpriced and nobody wants to see a Buffalo team play. The tickets, at one point, were THREE TIMES the cost of Patriots playoff tickets. And why should Toronto embrace Buffalo’s team? The Coyotes played in Winnipeg last year and didn’t sell out. That doesn’t mean Winnipeg isn’t a good hockey market, all it means is that the people don’t give a crap about a franchise that’s not “theirs”.

    4) Toronto may not benefit from the US television contract but will obtain one rather quickly from TSN, and a large one at that. The Jays are your example of Toronto not being able to support a losing team? The Jays have the 4th longest playoff drought (third if you don’t include the Montreal/Washington Expos/Nationals franchise) in North American Professional Sport!

    It’s funny that this guy is probably from Vancouver, or Calgary, or Edmonton, or Ottawa or some other city in Canada that hates Toronto no matter what you say. It’s also funny that all those NHL franchises (Canucks, Flames, Oilers, and Senators) have all suffered from attendance problems in the past. I cannot name 1 city that has not suffered from attendance problems in the past. You know the Yankees had games in the 1960s that had 400 people in the stands? That’s right four hundred. Same with the Red Sox. Your arguments have gaping holes in them.

    The fact is, Toronto’s metro area and business district does enable it to have a VERY good shot at an NFL franchise. It’s the third largest TV market in English-speaking North America (thus, excluding Mexico City), It’s the fourth largest city in English-speaking North America (behind NY, LA, and Chicago, once again excluding Mexico City), and it has the third most important economy in all of North America (that is including Mexico City, behind only NY and Chicago). That is the stuff the NFL looks at when it’s looking to place a franchise, not attendance of the Blue Jays. If they did, then every one of the cities with a major North American sports franchise would be disqualified.

  22. I do agree if Toronto builds a $700 mill or so NFL specific stadium, the NFL will listen. The NFL obviously doen’t like the RC with what Goodell has said at the SB. But in this economy will there be a $700 mill or so stadium built regardless if companies like MLSE or Rogers has the money? I very much doubt it, very small chance. I think only the Olympics coming to Toronto will get a stadium done, and the Olympics in Toronto is a very, very long ways off.

  23. Yes, please bring the NFL to Toronto — so the Argos die and the CFL dies — because I can only respect “major league” football with over-hyped, under-motivated, millionaire celebrities charading as dedicated athletes when they’re not busy posing for the local paparazzi… I mean… media.

  24. If someone or a group of people have the money to buy an NFL team then obviously they would have the kind of money to build an NFL stadium needed to even get the NFL team.

  25. This is a joke right? The Blue Jays are breaking attendance lows… and then there is football in Toronto which has no support whatsoever. Vanier Cup moved, no interest, university football… I draw more of a crowd at my touch football games…. Buffalo Bills experiment… fail…. Argos, no support… but most of all was the big failure of the the International Bowl… The BLOODY INTERNATIONAL BOWL! If you aren’t going to fill the stadium for the elite college football teams in the NCAA, Toronto deserves nothing. Stick with the Leafs.

  26. There is no way that the NFL will expand into Toronto because the CFL is the only other league in the world that plays “football”. IT would be like killing your best friend.
    does not make sense. And in addition, as the CFL’s popularity goes up so does football in general.

    I use to be worried about the CFL and Toronto expansion, but now i feel very comfortable with the situation.
    yes, a stadium will be built ., but to accommodate the Argos in the next two to three years.

  27. NFL sucks just watch Detroit ,Cleveland or Buffalo they coulldn,t beat the worst cfl team .

  28. The solution is to build a new Baseball stadium and convert the Dome to NFL:

    Many posts above talk about the poor quality of the Dome (Past name – Skydome Present name Rogers Centre) for baseball. I agree. The dome was the last of the modern tradition of multi purpose stadiums, eg three rivers, astrodome, Shea stadium where perfect spheres morphed to host football and baseball. We now know the compromise was that it was less than ideal for both games. The modern day result is separate stadiums specializing in each sport. The dome holds 50,000 while NFL looks to have today at least 70,000

    But the Dome was not built for NFL, it was built for CFL where the field is 30 yards longer and much wider. This means there is room to refigure the already movable 100 level seats around the nfl field and add thousands . Then take away the unused restaurant glass in centre field and the jumbo tron, and perhaps even the hotel windows.
    20,000 seats could be found within the otherwise usable shell of the retractable dome with ample luxury boxes and amenities that bring concession profits. The dome is light years ahead of Ralph Wilson stadium isn’t it?

    This could also justify a new smaller baseball stadium, Today we want a cosy baseball experience, probably with less seats to add intimacy.

  29. NFL would Fail in Toronto

  30. I believe the NFL would be fine in Toronto and ive seen enough support in the messages above. The CFL brings lesser talent and to few teams. Personally I believe the biggest hold up besides the stadium is the proximity of Buffalo. The NFL knows the Bills depend on Canadian interest from southern Ontario. The Bills wouldnt last with a team in Toronto so why replace one franchise with another. It would take the Bills folding and Toronto having the stadium in place. Ideally Toronto would do better if it recieved a full expansion team.

  31. The NFL in Toronto a fiasco

    So far there are 2 preseason games, and 3 regular season NFL games in Toronto. None of these games where full houses (less than 54,000). Worse, very few paid they tickets at full price. Tens of thousands where reduced tickets. Tens of thousands more, where free tickets. And still, not one full house in 5 games! Toronto region is where there are the most NFL fans in Canada.

    Why Canadians didn’t come to see Peyton Manning and the Colts or Ricky Williams? Perhaps Canadians are better placed to compare the show offered by the two football leagues. The CFL is so much faster and exciting. The NFL resembles more baseball and the CFL more with hockey. You know, Canadians love hockey.

    Evan with the Rogers telecommunications strong marketing and the Medias propaganda, you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

  32. 1- For an NFL team to survive in a market like Toronto it needs to be the #1 sport and it probably won’t happen.

    2- Football fans are divided between the Canadian league and the powerful foreign country league the NFL. Many football fans will not forgive the NFL for killing the Canadian league.

    3- What proof is there that Toronto will attract a larger crowd? The city can’t get 54,000 NFL fans into the Skydome. To survive it will need to get 65,000 – 70,000 fans on a regular basic. Rogers gave away something like 60,000 tickets so far and still do not have a single NFL full house yet. If fans don’t even bother to go when it’s free, on what basis do some say that the NFL will do well in Toronto? In the end, who’s going to pay for the NFL catastrophe? Rogers customers and Toronto’s citizens. Many say it may not have enough TV revenues anyway.

    4- The 78 million dollar deal to bring the Bills to Toronto is a big flop. This would be nothing compared to the enormous losses if an NFL team would come to Toronto.

    5- After all that money spent, what guarantee is there that Toronto would have a good team? As well, what guarantee would fans have that they will see a high percentage of exciting NFL games? This is in the NFL a very rare thing anyway.

    6- Frankly I do not understand why, but some prefer the NFL. That’s their choice and we have to respect this. Nobody is depriving them of watching NFL games on TV. The CFL can’t compete against a 9 billions League. Why risk depriving the rest of the country who love the Canadian football? 42% of Canadians citizens watched the Grey Cup entirely or partly in 2010. On TSN, the CFL became the #1 sport last year. Still some want to impose the NFL in Toronto (in Canada); can we consider this attitude a little egotistical?

  33. The NFL Commish has the typical American way of thinking…. Spend lots of money on something the city really does not need for a venue that no one will go to even when the tickets are free. No wonder why the U.S. economy has gone down the drain. Toronto could probably put the money to better use by repaving old roads or renovating schools.

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