Realty One

Friday, November 25, 2016


TORONTO – Riding a wave of high scoring, close games, the Canadian Football League is making progress towards its goals, Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge told reporters Friday morning in a packed ballroom at the Delta Toronto during his annual State of the League news conference.

“When we look at the current state of the league, that’s the word that comes to mind: progress,” the second-year Commissioner said. “We’ve done a lot to move the chains forward.”

Orridge said the game of Canadian professional football is in excellent shape. Offensive scoring, a major concern just two years ago, is up 20% compared to the 2014 regular season, and is up 10% over last year.

“This is a result of making significant changes to open up the game,” Orridge said.

The number of penalties, a concern a year ago, was down 12% in the regular season, or about three flags per game. The league had eight regular season overtime games, matching the CFL record. The margin of victory in more than a quarter of the games was four points or fewer. And the outcome of half of the games remained undecided until the final three minutes.

“I would stack our game against any other,” Orridge said.

The Calgary Stampeders face the Ottawa REDBLACKS in the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw here this Sunday evening at 6 pm ET. The game can be seen on TSN and RDS in Canada, on ESPN2 in the United States, on BTSports in Ireland and the United Kingdom and will be streamed live outside of North America.

He said the league’s goals are to keep the fans it has by engaging them more and more, attract new and diverse fans, and reach and include the next generation of fans.

He cited that fact that while ratings for the CFL on TSN were up by 3% overall, they were up 7% in the key 18-49 demographic, and female viewership is up 7% compared to last regular season.

“These numbers suggest that we are moving in the right direction, and we have lots more work to do,” Orridge said.

More than two million fans attended a CFL game for the third straight year, and the league averaged just shy of 25,000 fans per game, but overall announced attendance was slightly down from one year ago.

“This confirms we need to do more of the work we have been doing to keep our current fans and attract new and younger fans,” he said.

The Commissioner said an investment in the league’s digital platforms is an important part of this strategy. Traffic doubled on this year, and engagement was up on Facebook (37%), Twitter (80%) and Instagram (293%).

Sunday’s game – the national championship of Canadian professional football – will be played outdoors at refurbished BMO Field, which this year become the new permanent home of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.

“Under new, committed ownership, they have begun to rebuild,” Orridge said.

The Argos saw a 14% increase in attendance, doubled their season ticket base, and saw 10% increase in television ratings on TSN for their games, he continued.

He acknowledged that many people – including the Argos owners and management team – would have loved to have seen a complete turnaround in just one season.

“It’s going to take some time,” Orridge said. “But there’s a bright future, and definitely a place in Toronto for the Argos.”

He emphasized the league’s continuing commitment to player health and safety, including the introduction of a stronger drug testing policy, developed in cooperation with the Canadian Football League Players Association, and this year’s addition of injury spotters to the league’s Command Centre for all games.

He cited other progress for the CFL: league-wide education for players and league and team staff as part of the league’s policy on violence against women, new initiatives with You Can Play, which promotes access and fairness for LGBTQ athletes and fans, and the introduction of a clear anti-tampering policy governing coaches’ movements between teams.

Orridge acknowledged that the Western Division had a large edge in play this year: 2016 marked only the 12th time in 56 years of interlocking play that one division won more than 70% of contests between teams from the two divisions.

The league is always open to improving its structures but the current playoff format has served the league well over several years, and the CFL will likely want to monitor the situation beyond one “unusual” year, he said.

“Whether it’s our game, our fan engagement, marketing or our policies, we are moving forward,” Orridge said.

“We haven’t been this strong and stable in quite some time. And that means we can focus on some of these long term challenges. We are seeing real, positive progress.”


TORONTO - CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge admits the Toronto Argonauts underachieved in their first season at BMO Field but says the franchise remains on the road to recovery.

Toronto (5-13) finished last in the East Division this season, the first for new owners Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, and Bell Media.

The Argos were 2-7-0 in their new home.

But Orridge told reporters Friday at his annual Grey Cup address that the club's ownership and new facility are signs the Argos are headed in the right direction.

Orridge also downplayed reports that lagging ticket sales have resulted in Toronto Grey Cup organizers resorting to giveaways for Sunday's game at BMO Field, adding ticket promotions are a common business practice.

The Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Redblacks meet in Sunday's CFL title game.

But Orridge wouldn't follow the lead of the NFL in admitting to a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain citing a class-action lawsuit that's been launched against the league over concussions and brain trauma.


John Knight said...

What the hell has he been smoking. I guess you pick out stats that look good and ignore how PI--ED OFF fans are at the stupid coaches challenges on plays where a receiver runs into a defender and pass interference is called and if a receiver is just touched even if he is not involved in the play, a penalty is called. It is ruining the game and some fans are turning away from the game

Gord said...

Wow, what a load of crap, not one mention of the ridiculous rules that were implemented that are killing the league and not one mention of the ineptitude of the command center all year. This guy is a complete joke. Just no clue whatsoever. How long is this clowns contract anyway does anyone know? The CFL will continue to regress with him in charge. Notable mention to Glen Johnson and his bonehead sidekick Jake Ireland.

Anonymous said...

What planet is this guy Orridge on???? Toronto- "there's a bright future". League on field product sucks big time!!!!! I was offered a GC ticket for $7.** purchase, that's right, seven dollars, no deal, pass!

Anonymous said...

He never even mentioned the CFL's biggest blemish and that's the incompetent staff in the control centre. That crew botched umpteen calls this year and just kept their jobs. Unreal.

I want blood!!!

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! Who is he trying to kid?

Anonymous said...

I honestly feel bad for Orridge because he's been put in this spot of having to rebuild the CFL from scratch and it's not easy. He can't go and throw his refs under the bus right before the big game but he did mention that everything would be reviewed in the off-season. I certainly hope it will. It looks as if replay is here to stay which sucks but at least they need to make the rules cut and dried so the refs know what constitutes what penalty. And make it so not every little fingerpoke goes for a penalty, let the boys play.

The CFL has been making strides but in my opinion the reason the league fell so far behind is because of Mark Cohon. Sure he was popular and all glad-handing at parties and being visible but he didn't actually do anything to build and adapt the CFL in a changing landscape. It seems that all he did was rely on the success of the Roughriders and our fan passion to carry the league through while neglecting everything else. Then when the Riders run into tough times as they are the past couple years, the true state of the league has been exposed. It's been a tough road back but at least Orridge has some sort of a plan. Cohon had zilch.

Gunderson's Yorkton

Anonymous said...

I'll watch paint dry on a wall this Sunday rather than watch 104 th Grey Cup, Really, thats my plan and sticking to it.


Anonymous said...

I read a transcript of his remarks and, frankly, it was hard to read. He seems to be clearly out of touch with what is going on. He does not seem to "get it" about the officiating in the league being horrendous. The challenges and video reviews are making the game unwatchable. He also will not admit the link between concussions and the various damage they cause. Again, clearly out of touch.

Anonymous said...

Is Andre Proulx reffing the championship game? Hope so, he's the best.


Anonymous said...

This is the most clueless Commish in decades

Anonymous said...

Play the guess Who said game;

Who said,
"no link between football and brain injuries".

Clue; he's a brainless bald headed buffoon.
Another clue; take a look at the above picture caption.

Can you guess Who said?