The Canadian Football League is a volatile place to run a business, even now when the loop boasts of record attendance and strong TV viewership.
The latest “crisis” has Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young understandably frustrated with Hamilton’s ongoing saga over the location of its new stadium.
City council’s decision to build a new downtown facility for the 2015 Pan Am Games has irked Young, who is threatening to pull the team out of Steeltown when its current lease expires after next season. While it might be posturing on the part of Young, who prefers a location that would provide more parking and easier access, it’s surprising the city is playing rough with its only legitimate tenant once the Games are over. There is speculation Young will sell the team to interests in Quebec City, Moncton or Ottawa, which would be tragic for patient football fans in The Hammer who deserve a modern home for games after putting up with decrepit Ivor Wynne Stadium for decades.
The CFL’s crossover playoff format was designed to appease the perennial powerhouses of the West. Since the crossover rule was introduced in 1997, the fourth-place team in the West has played in the East semifinal six times while no team from the East has ever crossed over to the West, but that could change this year. The season is only one-third over, but with the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos both trapped in the basement with 1-5 records, all four Eastern teams have a shot at earning playoff berths.
Hall of a nice guy
Richie Hall is a sympathetic figure along the sidelines of the hapless Edmonton Eskimos. The 1-5 team’s likable head coach has been a success as both a player and assistant, but fingers are being pointed his way over the team’s slow starts. Pro athletes aren’t supposed to require additional inspiration at game time, but how else do you explain their sluggish effort last week against Toronto despite a home crowd of more than 30,000 at Commonwealth Stadium?
Desperate times call for desperate measures and that’s where B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono finds himself tonight. After five consecutive losses, Buono is handing the ball to third-string quarterback Jarius Jackson as the Lions face the Roughriders in Saskatchewan. Jackson is taking over for the sporadic Travis Lulay, who had the starting role since the early-season injury to Casey Printers.