CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon is excited about where the league is now, and where it is heading.
In his annual state of the league address, Cohon says the league has stable, if not growing attendance, strong corporate partnerships, and more stadium projects underway.
Cohon says it all contributes to a stronger business model for the league.
He says league wide attendance was up 1.5 per cent this year compared to 2012, when Guelph is removed from the equation.
With Alumni Stadium’s smaller capacity figures factored in, Cohon says 2013 attendance was down 4 per cent.
Cohon says he thinks “the Tiger-Cats have a tremendous opportunity ahead of them with the opening of Tim Hortons Field” in 2014, and believes that appearing in Sunday’s Grey Cup will give Hamilton great momentum heading into their new stadium.
Cohon says with the Ottawa Redblacks becoming the CFL’s ninth team next season, they are closer to making the league a truly coast to coast entity with an east coast franchise.
He says they are now in a position to engage in those conversations with political and business leaders about the future of a 10th team.
Cohon says the league’s new TV deal begins next season, as does a new apparel contract with Reebok which will include some “refreshed jerseys.”
The Commissioner says safety remains a priority in the league, pointing to a relatively flat concussion rate compared to last year.
Cohon says the league is doing a better job of assessing and treating players when they are injured on the field.
The league and CFL Players Association will begin a new round of labour negotiations this off-season towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2014.
Cohon stresses that he will not negotiate in the media, adding “we will negotiate a fair and reasonable deal that is in the best interest of our teams, of our players and our fans to make sure we continue to grow this great league of ours.”