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Hunt for the next Commissioner of the CFL is over

Posted on December 21, 2014 at 1:45 PM





Maybe it’s because of the Ontario PC leadership race, or perhaps the meltdown of Danielle Smith in Alberta, but I’ve been pondering about the importance of great leadership. In my previous post about the Wild Rose Party of Alberta, I used football to illustrate a point.

Venerable organizations need to do soul searching to ensure that candidates for leadership possess the experience and attributes required to face the challenges of tomorrow.

And since politics and sports go hand in hand, I’m going to weigh in on the latter.

With the announcement that Mark Cohon will be leaving as the Commissioner of the Canadian Football League once his contract expires in April 2015, the CFL is undertaking a search for his replacement.

On paper, the CFL appears to be in great shape. New stadiums have debuted in Winnipeg, Hamilton and Ottawa - along with an expansion of Montreal’s stadium. Ottawa’s expansion in fact, has gone extremely well off the field and at the gate. The CFL has been able to work out solid television deals with TSN and ESPN. And most importantly, attendance at an average CFL game is third highest amongst professional sports in North America.

But there are serious challenges that lay ahead too:

1) The Toronto Argonauts need a new owner and a new stadium. A move to the BMO Field would be disastrous for the team.

2) With the Buffalo Bills staying in Buffalo, the time has come for CFL to return to the bargaining table with the NFL.

3) The CFL needs to plan for the renewal of their television contracts as well as explore other media opportunities.

4) Merchandising needs to be stronger.

I’m not on the search committee.

But that won’t stop me from proposing a name of someone who I think would make a brilliant CFL Commissioner.

Eric Bischoff.

He’s American, but we’ve had Americans lead the CFL before. Nobody comes with a better resume for building a sports event into a must see spectacle, or with his experience in television and media.

When Bischoff lead the World Championship Wrestling during it’s rivalry with the WWE, his company was initially seen as “second-rate” to Vince McMahon’s product. Yet Bischoff didn’t shy away from the challenge. By capitalizing on the strengths of his company, he had garnered a higher gate and television viewership for WCW events.

Imagine if we had a Commissioner who also capitalized on the strengths of the CFL game and sold the excitement of 3-down football to outsell the NFL.

It’s been done before and it can be done again.

The CFL game needs to be re-introduced in Vancouver and Toronto especially to young fans. A reinvigorated CFL fan base in Toronto and Vancouver will go a long way to bolstering the CFL brand across North America.

Many markets in the CFL cannot support a 50,000 seat stadium; but if there are two that can, it’s Toronto and Vancouver.

With Eric Bischoff of the helm, with his marketing savvy and his television production experience, the CFL can return to the glory days of the past.

We just need the owners of the CFL to make the right hiring decision.

Like politics, sports are all about getting people’s attention.

The CFL needs the right person to do just that.


 

 

 

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