Here we go again with this story.
Not much to say from here, but I did
waste spend a couple of hours going over the Star's database back to 1986 (keywords, NFL expansion Toronto) -- 887 stories in all. Whew.
So here it is, your timeline. NFL expansion to Toronto? Is it time for that one again?
|Larry and Ted: The latest sequel.|
Jan. 1986. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle says league doesn't intend to expand into Canada and that has nothing to do with the future of the CFL.
Jan. 1987. Rozelle says no international expansion "in my lifetime."
Dec. 1987. Rozelle: "Toronto and Montreal are both great cities, capable of supporting NFL franchises." But he adds there are "five or six" better candidates in the U.S.
Feb. 1988. Montreal group announces a bid for an expansion team.
Jan. 1989. Expansion team price tag estimated at $80 million U.S. (Rozelle).
Feb. 1989. Toronto group (The Sun, Carling-O'Keefe) announces it's been working toward acquiring a franchise since 1986. Paul Godfrey estimates cost of an expansion team at $50-60 million.
March 1989. Cowboys president Tex Schramm preaches respect for the CFL, but as far as the NFL, "Toronto and Montreal could make awfully strong representations."
Late 1989. Price for an expansion franchise estimated at $75-100 million.
Aug. 1990. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on international expansion: "If you include Canada I think it is obviously realistic in this decade."
Dec. 1990. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says Toronto is ready for an expansion franchise, "could easily support any sports franchise."
Jan. 1991. Bills owner Ralph Wilson: "A Toronto club wouldn't hurt us. We don't depend on Canada for fans."
Aug. 1993. Browns owner Art Modell: Toronto will have expansion team "sooner rather than later."
Feb. 1994. NFL spokesman says league has no minimum seating requirement for stadiums.
Jan. 1995. Tagliabue on expansion: "Canada and Mexico would certainly be viable candidates."
June 1995. Godfrey pegs cost of expansion franchise at $200 million U.S. Tagliabue says L.A. the priority for a team, but suggests SkyDome smallish football capacity (54,000) is not a problem in Toronto's reckoning. "I think the future involves the quality of a stadium as much as the size."
Aug. 1995. Bills, Cowboys play exhibition game at SkyDome in front of 55,799.
Late 1995. Jacksonville, Carolina get expansion franchises for $140 million U.S. each. Bills owner Wilson: "A team in Toronto would definitely have an effect on our team. We think this is our market."
Nov. 1995. Tagliabue: Further expansion "unlikely until after 2000."
Dec. 1996. Pete Rozelle dies.
Aug. 1998. Bills, Packers play exhibition game in SkyDome in front of official crowd of 53,986, but Star reporters note about 10,000 no-shows out of that number.
March 1998. Cleveland gets expansion franchise, early estimate of franchise fee $350 million.
Sept. 1998. Cleveland group pays $530 million for franchise.
Oct. 1998. At NFL owners meeting, Toronto doesn't make bid for 32nd league franchise. Godfrey: "The NFL will go international and I think the first international city in the league will be Toronto."
Nov. 1998. Tagliabue: "No timetable for expansion" internationally.
Summer 1999. Local report has Bills being acquired by Toronto group for $500 million US and moved to Toronto as part of Wilson estate planning.
Oct. 1999. Houston added as 32nd NFL franchise, expansion fee $700 million.
Jan. 2001. Godfrey: "Whatever it costs, it will be worth more 10 years later. They've never gone down in value."
April 2002. Tagliabue: Toronto not on radar for future expansion.
Feb. 2005. Tagliabue, on whether NFL will expand to Toronto in our lifetimes: "It depends on how long you expect to live." And: "I think it could be very likely that the next franchises in the NFL, beyond 32, are outside the U.S. Toronto would certainly be a candidate."
That's good to know. As Jim Carrey once said, "So there is a chance!" (Then again, Paul Tagliabue is hale and hearty, and Ralph Wilson too.)