REGINA - Randy's Road Trip touched down in the Rider Nation on Saturday.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie's tour of CFL cities made a stop at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Saturday before a crowd of roughly 300 Rider fans in Harvard's Studio 620 Lounge.
Ambrosie addressed the crowd for approximately 90 minutes on a wide range of topics.
The fans qualified as Rewards Program members (season ticket holders) and the 300 available spots were snapped up in a matter of a few hours.
Here are some notes from the get-together:
1 - Ambrosie spent the first 15 minutes of the session delivering his own message - sort of a State of the League presentation - about how his tour has gone, and his short- and long-term vision for the CFL. It included league-wide ticketing and marketing strategies.
Meanwhile they will be announcing the 2019 Grey Cup host city in a month's time.
2 - The CFL will feature some league-wide marketing initiatives this season - similar to last year's Canada 150 celebrations in all markets - but these will focus specifically on a Kids Day and Diversity Is Strength.
3 - One of the hot topics across his tour has been officiating and the Commissioner said while there won't be many rule changes for 2018, they continue to tweak the video review and challenge system to reach optimum efficiency. They're also moving to an NFL-style system of specific officiating crews working together for consecutive weeks.
4 - Ambrosie would like to make Canadian quarterbacks count towards the ratio as soon as possible but that's going to have to wait until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (after the 2018 season). At that time, the matter will go to a vote among CFL players (the CFLPA) before ratification by the governors.
5 - There has been no talk of divisional realignment. There have been murmurs of the CFL moving to one division of nine teams (with the top six making the playoffs) and scrapping the long-standing East-West format. However Ambrosie said that's not on the table, particularly with the talk of the League expanding to 10 teams and having two divisions of five teams each.
6 - Although the tour is making a stop in Halifax, Ambrosie assured us that it doesn't mean expansion to Halifax is a done deal. He said we can't truly call it the CANADIAN Football League if we ignore such an important region of the country like the Maritimes. As far as expansion to Halifax goes, Ambrosie continues to work with the prospective ownership group there on the construction of a new stadium.
|Reynolds, Ambrosie & Me. Photo: Larry Schwentke|
8 - Plans for a CFL console video game are being investigated but Ambrosie said they're very pleased with the success of the CFL Frenzy mobile game which was launched in 2017. They had 500,000 downloads of the App and they're hoping to expand on that.
9 - There was very little talk of the statement released by Ambrosie last week regarding the enforcement of the current salary structure (and rookies' complaints about not being let out of their deals to sign in the NFL). However Ambrosie wanted to clarify his comment that CFL players should pursue off-season jobs. He said not only does that supplement players' incomes, but it also sets them up for life after football.
However the Commissioner said that as it stands now, American players' work visas only allow them to work as pro football players and not in industry. He said that's a discussion the CFL will need to have with Canadian Immigration.
10 - One disgruntled fan asked Ambrosie if he'd look at a provision whereby the League would prohibit football operations personnel from having too many job titles (clearly pointing the finger at Chris Jones).
Ambrosie said the Commissioner's Office will not stick its nose into the teams' business on an individual basis.
Rider President Craig Reynolds said not to put much stock into Chris Jones' vast job portfolio. He said Jones has done a good job of delegating responsibility within the Riders' football administration, and on the defensive side of the football. He said all Jones really does on defense is call plays and as far as he's concerned, Jones is the best Defensive Coordinator in the CFL.