‘Heading in the right direction’: CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie embracing function main league

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie is not going wherever.

The 60-year-old Winnipeg native has held the job since 2017 and mentioned Tuesday he has no quick plans to step away.

“I really feel like we’re heading in the right direction, there’s plenty of causes to be thrilled concerning the outcomes we have had,” Ambrosie instructed reporters throughout his annual state of the league tackle. “I additionally assume these outcomes will be constructed upon and I nonetheless have plenty of vitality and keenness.

“In the end, that call can be made by the board of governors and myself … however for now, I am simply honoured and thrilled to be the commissioner of the CFL. I plan on staying within the job so long as the governors need me to be in it.”

Ambrosie succeeded Jeffrey Orridge in July 2017 and is the fourth-longest serving commissioner behind Jake Gaudaur (1968-84), Sydney Halter (1958-66), and Mark Cohon (2007-15). Typical pondering suggests Ambrosie would look to remain on the job at the least via the ’26 season when the league’s broadcast offers with TSN and the CBS Sports activities Community expire.

Ought to Ambrosie efficiently safe a CFL growth franchise within the Maritimes, a 10-team circuit may make the league way more engaging shifting ahead. It might definitely current a way more constructive outlook than what Ambrosie confronted in ’21 when the league resumed play after the worldwide pandemic pressured the cancellation of the earlier season.

“I felt like initially of 2022 my very own private degree of vitality was simply actually again,” Ambrosie mentioned. “Not solely to the place I used to be once I began the job in 2017 however I nearly felt prefer it was increased as a result of my degree of confidence in the place we have been going was that a lot increased.

“In some unspecified time in the future it will likely be time to cross the baton to someone else. However for now, I am honoured to be within the place.”

In dialog for growth

A proponent of CFL growth into the Maritimes, Ambrosie mentioned the time is quick approaching for that to occur however hasn’t supplied a deadline.

“We have been in a dialog with a extremely engaged, extremely certified potential proprietor in Atlantic Canada,” Ambrosie mentioned. “We do not have a conclusion but.

“However I am optimistic and sensible that in some unspecified time in the future if we won’t get it accomplished, then we might should thank Atlantic Canadians for internet hosting us after which say maybe we’ll should attempt one other time.”

For the primary time throughout his CFL tenure, Ambrosie was capable of trumpet excellent news concerning the Toronto Argonauts, B.C. Lions and Montreal Alouettes. In his earlier Gray Cup addresses, he needed to communicate particularly about points with one — or all — of the franchises.

Toronto, which posted a CFL-best 16-2 report, had a 41.1 per cent enhance in game-day income. On Saturday, the franchise drew 26,620 spectators — the most important crowd for an Argos recreation at BMO Discipline since shifting there in 2016 — for its 38-17 East Division remaining loss to the Montreal Alouettes.

Argonauts huge receiver David Ungerer III sits on the bench after the crew’s loss to the Alouettes within the East remaining. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Montreal, which was operated by the CFL this low season earlier than being bought to Quebec businessman Pierre-Karl Peladeau, is in its first Gray Cup since 2010. The Alouettes gained 11 regular-season video games, their most since 2012, and skilled a 13.5 per cent enhance in game-day revenues.

B.C. continues to thrive below proprietor Omar Doman. Its game-day revenues elevated 12.3 per cent because the Lions (12-6) completed second within the West Division earlier than dropping 24-13 final Saturday to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers within the convention remaining.

General, CFL scoring elevated 18 per cent over the ’21 season whereas 60 per cent of video games (up from 51 per cent in ’21) have been determined within the remaining two minutes. League attendance was up three per cent whereas its TV rankings elevated 9 per cent general however a whopping 34 per cent within the 25-to-54 demographic.

Ambrose mentioned there was a 1.35 million common minute viewers for the East Division remaining whereas the West Division championship drew 1.12 million.

“Historically the West video games outperform the East video games,” Ambrosie mentioned. “That is thrilling, which means we’re partaking followers in these massive markets.”

But it surely wasn’t all excellent news for the CFL.

Unknowns for Elks

In August, the Edmonton Elks and former president/CEO Victor Cui parted methods with former president/CEO Rick LeLacheur returning on an interim foundation. The franchise, after an 0-9 begin, completed final within the West with a 4-14 report and hasn’t reached the CFL playoffs since 2019.

It averaged simply over 24,700 spectators per recreation — which included a season-low crowd of 19,921 for a 38-29 dwelling loss to Winnipeg. This yr’s attendance is down considerably from 2015 when the franchise averaged a CFL-high 31,517 followers per recreation.

Subsequent yr, Edmonton will shut the higher bowl at Commonwealth Stadium, which has a seating capability for 56,400 followers. There’s additionally rumblings that the Elks, considered one of three community-owned CFL franchises (Saskatchewan and Winnipeg are the others) may grow to be privately owned.

“Clearly for me, it is vitally private, I spent 5 of my 9 seasons there,” Ambrosie mentioned. “Clearly that fanbase was very upset with their on-field efficiency and made their displeasure identified.

“It is not for me to take a position [on] what course the Elks would possibly take. No matter future that can be created for the Elks, these choices can be made in Edmonton by Edmontonians, by the Elks and their board.”

The CFL’s new statistics system, created through its partnership with Genius Sports activities, carried out inadequately all through the season. Though the platform has improved, it stays very clunky, prompting Ambrosie to apologize for the problems.

“Look, I do not assume we delivered the best way we would have liked to ship,” Ambrosie mentioned. “But it surely’s such a essential basis that we would have liked to create for ourselves that we needed to take that probability.

“By the point we get to 2024, I consider we will be in a a lot, a lot stronger place to fulfill your expectations.”

Men's CFL team executive looks into camera and answers question during television interview.
Cui and the Elks parted methods with the crew posting a 4-23 report since he started serving as membership president/CEO in January 2022. (Courtesy cfl.ca)

Schedule tinkering

Scheduling was once more a problem, with tight turnarounds, an unbalanced format and premature matchups. Toronto and Winnipeg, final yr’s Gray Cup finalists, met simply as soon as on Sept. 29, after the Argos had clinched first within the East Division.

Subsequently, quarterback Chad Kelly, the East’s excellent participant nominee, did not play in Winnipeg’s 31-21 dwelling win.

“There was plenty of stress we have been coping with financially popping out of COVID however we have determined we will return to the balanced schedule format,” Ambrosie mentioned.

Ambrosie added Saturday CFL playoff video games are right here to remain.

He addressed the league’s relationship with the CFL Gamers’ Affiliation, calling it “work in progress.” That is additionally how union government director Brian Ramsay termed through the CFLPA’s availability.

“Our group isn’t specializing in attaining a partnership with the CFL,” Ramsay mentioned. “However now, we moderately centre our time on a wholesome, skilled working relationship.”

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