Arthur Blank mentions expansion when asked about Toronto

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Commissioner Roger Goodell sang the praises of Toronto yesterday, while effectively saying that until they built a new stadium, the NFL wasn’t coming.

But one influential owner opened a significant can of worms when asked about the topic, mentioning expansion beyond 32 teams as a possibility.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank told John Kryk of the Toronto Sun that he shared Goodell’s belief that a stadium was the key to an NFL future there, while raising the intriguing possibility of more than the current amount of teams.

“I think it’s a question of just trying to understand expansion and the implications — having it balanced,” Blank said. “You don’t want an odd number of teams; you’d want an even number of teams. How that would fall out [is crucial].

“I don’t think anyone questions the size of the Toronto market or the potential of the market. It’s a great market and a great sports city — a great sports city.”

Asked to clarify that expansion would be a consideration, Blank said yes.

“It could be, but I don’t think it has to be,” he said. “I do think the city could definitely support a team.”

Many in the NFL believe they’ve reached a perfect balance, with 32 teams, and eight four-team divisions. But these guys also keep talking about growing the game and expanding revenues, so a future beyond the current set-up has to have been considered at some level. It’s still seems more likely that relocation is a better bet than expansion regarding Canada, but the simple fact that Blank would broach the topic is interesting.

Toronto is certainly a substantial market, with 6 million people in the metropolitan area, making it the largest city in the U.S. or Canada without a team. So if nothing else, the NFL shaking the tree for a new stadium would at least create some leverage for them, when owners push for stadium deals in their own markets.

66 responses to “Arthur Blank mentions expansion when asked about Toronto

  1. The Bills should move there. Toronto is a bright, vibrant, and modern city. The Bills need a reset, much like the Browns and Bengals. None of those 3 will ever be successful in those depressing cities…

  2. Canadian taxpayers are not paying for a billion dollar palace for an American billionaire, the league is delusional if they think that will happen

  3. The NFL really needs to lay off this Toronto idea…….

    A) it just might kill the Bills in Western New York
    B) they have no stadium, nor is there a taxpayer desire to fund one, the province is broke
    C) the team would operate at an approx 35% financial disadvantage due to currency exchange

  4. One in Toronto and one in Vancouver?! Several instant international rivalries leap to mind.

  5. Sounds like a play to force the Pegulas to build a new stadium in Buffalo. Nothing more.

    No way another owner wants expansion. That makes the club less exclusive. Not to mention you DO need two teams, in a perfect world, four teams and that’s never happening. None of it.

  6. would have to jump straight to 40 teams to make it workable schedule and balance wise. How could you have 5 team divisions and 4 teams in a division at the same time? Wouldn’t be fair. NOt enogh cities for teams though to get to 40 unless you go out of the country.

    top 8 places to put a team?

    1. toronto
    2. mexico city
    3.London
    4. san antonio
    5.portland
    6. st louis
    7. san diego?
    8. Oakland?

    not sure SD and Oak could support teams though

  7. I could see a football rivalry developing between Toronto and Buffalo. Similar to the Sabres and Maple Leafs.

  8. IF the NFL were to expand beyond 32 teams, I think it has an opportunity to right some wrongs here.

    For example, to my mind, and in the interest of fairness, Oakland, San Diego and St Louis should be top of the list, get the first refusal, especially with Oakland maybe getting a new stadium, although primarily for baseball, maybe they could double up. Then what about places that don’t already have a pro football team, for example, Oregon ( Portland? ), Utah ( Salt lake? ), Mississippi, Alabama?

    While Toronto may seem like a good idea, I am not sure how much they would want a team anyways, Canada already has its own league, which they are quite content with, just leave that market be, it likely doesn’t want or need a team.

  9. This is just a negotiation tactic the league uses to pressure other cities into building a new stadium for them.

  10. I actually wonder how that would play into the mind of NFLPA. Obviously, the NHL, MLB, and basketball are in Canada, but how does that play into the idea of contracts in terms of taxes? just an idea

  11. “Sounds like a play to force the Pegulas to build a new stadium in Buffalo. Nothing more.

    No way another owner wants expansion. That makes the club less exclusive. Not to mention you DO need two teams, in a perfect world, four teams and that’s never happening. None of it.”

    To the contrary, expansion is something every owner wants. Expansion leads to growth in more markets, eventually more games, thus increasing revenue. Expansion into the international market is especially attractive, as it opens up entirely new markets.

  12. Unless the plan is to add 1 team a year over 8 years this is just stupid. The scheduling works our so perfectly now with 32 teams and 8 divisions. Throwing in 33 teams and maybe a 17 game schedule will screw so much up.

  13. The NFL needs to expand, there are too many talented QBs and too few teams.

    Look at all these great QBs who should be starters

    Tyrod Taylor
    Geno Smith
    Trevor Siemien
    Brian Hoyer
    Josh Rosen
    Blake Bortles
    Mike Glennon
    Blaine Gabbert

    Imagine having an expansion team and your QB is as good as Blaine Gabbert. Oh the fun.

  14. What do the people who are constantly complaining about taxpayer funded stadiums think about taxpayer funded roads, garbage collection, and police protection? The no tax crowd is against any public services. They would prefer that we live in a backward society.

    New stadiums provide a myriad of benefits to their communities. Top line musical and other entertainment acts, great modern places for community events, and business development adjoining the stadiums are just a few of these benefits. A new stadium does not have to be a line item money maker to justify a taxpayer investment.

  15. January 30, 2020 at 8:35 am
    I think North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and Delaware want a NFL team also! Looks like Toronto is the next to city be leveraged so the Bills can get a new stadium.

    8 2 Rate This
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    We do! BUT then we’d get bored and would stop going after the first week.

  16. You need to keep talk of Toronto separate from that of the CFL and the rest of Canada. Toronto does not support their CFL team and it has the lowest average attendance in the entire league. Toronto sees themselves as big-time, and the CFL is a second-rate minor league at best. So Toronto would embrace a NFL team and abandon the CFL in a heartbeat. Having said that. it would be lethal to the Bills and the only way it makes sense at all is if either the Pegulas sell the team to a Toronto proponent or they do some kind of slit schedule like Green Bay did in Milwaukee for years. The Skydome will work as a stadium for several years yet.

  17. 32 teams with eight four team divisions is perfect. So is only 12 teams making the playoffs and only 16 games. The problem is the NFL and its owners are so greedy the will have to screw it all up.

  18. toronto is NOT a sports city. it is not a hockey city. it is a maple leafs city. any team that is not competitive does not get the support. the nfl would take off at the beginning because of novelty, but interest would wane once they are not competitive after a number of seasons. it will happen to the raptors once they regress. it happens to the blue jays. the only team that gets consistent suppor is the leafs.

  19. Until you can at least find 32 kickers that can make field goals consistently PLEASE don’t say the word expansion…just be honest and tell the truth. If the Buffalo and the Bills don’t have a deal in place for a new stadium in X months they’re moving to Y…

  20. The Bills kicked the tires in Toronto. They averaged 51,000 fans in a 67,000 seat stadium. NFL football in Toronto makes as much sense as NHL hockey in Phoenix.

  21. With expansion, the NFL would have to go to a minimum of 36 teams, in six divisions, 3 divisions to a conference. Schedule structure is similar to the present, with home-and-away within each division (10 games), playing an entire division in the the other conference (6 games), and playing the teams that finished the year prior in the same place in the other 2 divisions within the conference (2 games). Yes, that’s 18 games. Think the league brass hasn’t thought of this, lol?

    In the playoffs, the top-seeded team in each conference get a bye (2 teams). Two other divisional winners and six wildcards per conference make the play-offs – so 18 teams, half the league, are in. Wildcard weekend (8 games, 4 non-bye division winners at home) knocks out 8 teams, and divisional weekend (4 games) knocks out 4 more. The 4 non-bye teams remaining play each the other in conference semifinals. The semi-finals winners play the bye teams for conference championships – yes, an extra week of playoff football – and then (probably) without a week off, the SuperBowl.

    Give each team two regular season byes, and reduce the pre-season schedule from 4 games to 2 games, and allow more scrimmages at teams’ discretion, as a sop to the players and so that the regular season can still be played from the week after Labor Day until February (20 regular season weeks plus 5 playoff weeks = 25 weeks, nearly half the year, and 26 weeks if there is still a 2 week gap before the SB).

    Benefits to owners – expansion team entry fees of $500K-$1B+ each ($3B-6B+), and revenue from 2 extra regular season games and an extra week of playoff football. Mucho dinero. CFL becomes a de-facto, self-supporting development league, lessening dependence on the NCAA and its 3-year rule.

    Benefits to players – an extra bye, shorter pre-season, a better opportunity to make the playoffs, possibly expanded rosters. And more dinero.

    Benefits to fans – more regular season and playoff games, and a better chance of your team making the playoffs, woo-hoo!

    Benefits to TV/cable/streaming companies – more of the programing that attracts more eyeballs than any other.

    Possible expansion cities:
    US – St. Louis, San Antonio, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, San Diego, El Paso, Richmond, Omaha, etc.
    Non-US – London, Mexico City, Frankfurt, Milan, Shanghai, Toronto, Vancouver, etc.

    Give it 10 years, and this, or something like it, will probably happen.

  22. As much as I would be excited to finally see the CFL fold, I just don’t see how this flies. I live in Toronto, and would absolutely not care about this team. Most people in Canada already have their team loyalties. May work for a new generation, and the local casuals, but no Canadian NFL fan is going to abandon the Steelers, Packers, Pats, etc, for the Toronto Hogs.

  23. juan759 says:
    January 30, 2020 at 8:11 am
    would have to jump straight to 40 teams to make it workable schedule and balance wise. How could you have 5 team divisions and 4 teams in a division at the same time?

    No way they’d go to 40.

    The most reasonable would be expanding out to 36 and going back to 6 divisions instead of 8.

    Expand to Toronto, England, St. Louis, and San Diego.

  24. Please do not water down talent further by expanding. If the players want to add more jobs, push to add a couple of roster spots and/or just make everyone on the roster active on game days. The NFL may not even want to expand, but they need to seem like they have cities ready when they push existing cities to build them new, mostly free palaces in which to play.

  25. Toronto is not interested, they did not really support the Bill’;s games up there (even if they didn’t want the Bills, they could have supported the other teams). That’s why the Bill’s got out of the contract. Toronto is more of a soccer city then football.

  26. You need to keep talk of Toronto separate from that of the CFL and the rest of Canada. Toronto does not support their CFL team and it has the lowest average attendance in the entire league. Toronto sees themselves as big-time, and the CFL is a second-rate minor league at best. So Toronto would embrace a NFL team and abandon the CFL in a heartbeat. Having said that. it would be lethal to the Bills and the only way it makes sense at all is if either the Pegulas sell the team to a Toronto proponent or they do some kind of slit schedule like Green Bay did in Milwaukee for years. The Skydome will work as a stadium for several years yet.

    ————-

    The Pegulas aren’t going to sell the team, they’re not going to do a split schedule, and the Skydome is not a viable football stadium. It’s terrible.

  27. The last time the NFL played a game in Canada the field was only 80 yards long because nobody thought there might be an issue removing Canadian style uprights. If you want the NFL to thrive, find out what Goodell wants to do and then do the exact opposite.

  28. Of the original AFL Teams from 1960, the Bills & Chief’s have the most passionate Football fans. Yeah, the Raiders too but half their fans wouldn’t sit in cold weather and just like the image.

  29. The Georgia dome was only about 18 years old when Blank began his campaign for a ‘new’ stadium. Think of all the teams with stadiums that are around that age today:

    Seattle, New England, Houston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Baltimore, Tennessee, Tampa, probably several more.

    Do all those teams need a new stadium now? Will Phoenix have this debate in a few years, then Dallas a few years after that? This is ridiculous.

  30. I live in Toronto. If Toronto gets an expansion team, please put them in the NFC East. That way, I could watch my New York Football Giants beat the new team in Toronto, and then go to New York and watch the GMEN beat them again. Been a GIANTS fan for 40 years, no way will I change my loyalty.

  31. Comedy Gold would be watching Toronto’s new NFL team sell PSL’s. For sure, the corporate base would purchase some tickets, but the average football fan, NOT A CHANCE. It’s one thing to sell PSL’s in an arena for the Leafs and Raptors. Whole different animal with an 80,000 seat stadium that needs to be paid for.

  32. They would just need to do away with divisions to make the schedules work with 34 teams. Everyone plays the entire conference (16 games) and best records get into the playoffs.

  33. Why does the NFL think that every country in the world wants American football?
    Canada has their own league and truthfully, they prefer hockey and curling.

  34. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 30, 2020 at 7:44 am
    Canadian taxpayers are not paying for a billion dollar palace for an American billionaire, the league is delusional if they think that will happen

    ———————————————————

    never say never…currently, we are paying $50M to Mastercard (who turned an $18B profit last year) to build an office in Vancouver. JT doesn’t have a problem with taking money from the working class to help a billionaire achieve his/her dreams

  35. harrisonhits2 says:
    January 30, 2020 at 7:44 am
    Canadian taxpayers are not paying for a billion dollar palace for an American billionaire, the league is delusional if they think that will happen

    ———-

    In fairness I am certain it would be a Canadian billionaire.

  36. cardinealsfan20 says:
    January 30, 2020 at 7:55 am
    Why are some people so frightened of games being played outside of the US?
    ——————————————————————————————–

    Duh ….. It’s because the fans of their favorite teams lose home games, that’s why.

  37. Canada wont let people with felony records cross the border there could be a problem with having enough men on the field

  38. Don’t forget that US Border Services are very tough on Canadian residents crossing into the US now that Canada has legalized weed, so I imagine a NFL team would be easy pickings for them to detain.

  39. No need to expand…the clock is ticking on the Rams and Chargers. The Chargers can barely fill a soccer stadium and now that they’ve missed the playoffs, the Rams will quickly find out that Angelinos have lost their interest in football…again.

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