New CFL commissioner has bold vision for league's future
For the first time in over two decades, the Canadian Football League has a commissioner who played in the league.
In his six months on the job, Randy Ambrosie’s passion for Canadian football has been noticed by all the league’s general managers.
“He has a very clear vision on where he wants to go and how he wants to get there,” Hamilton’s GM Kent Austin said. “He is very transparent and has been with the operators in the league.”
That transparency was evident with Ambrosie investigating the off-field troubles of former U.S. college star Johnny Manziel and clearing him to negotiate a contract with Hamilton. Those negotiations continue.
Ambrosie, a former second overall draft pick by the Calgary Stampeders, has a huge bold vision for the CFL’s future, including Halifax getting an expansion team.
“It’s the unfinished part of our game and to have a 10th team and to have two five-team conferences would be amazing,” Ambrosie said.
No league decisions will be made at these GM meetings in Banff, but the new commissioner says player safety is the number one topic of discussion.
“We want to make sure we can help our team presidents and GMs understand where are the injuries happening, what might we do to reduce the number of injuries that happen,” he added. “We want our best players to play the game and be on the field so we talked a lot about that.”
They also discussed potentially starting the CFL season earlier. Warmer playoff games could translate to more fans in the seats.
“Whether the season moves up three weeks or whatever, does that allow our fans to come to the most meaningful games in a little bit better climate?” Calgary GM John Hufnagel asked.
Ambrosie was asked if the Calgary Stampeders would ever host a Grey Cup again if they don’t get a new stadium. He said he had fun memories as a player when he won a Grey Cup at McMahon Stadium but wouldn’t give a definitive answer to the question.
As for stadium discussions, that also ties into expansion in Halifax, where he said most of 2018 will be taken up discussing whether there would be an expansion franchise granted there and then it would take a couple years to build a stadium. It would still be three or four years until a potential 10-team league.