Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette talked with both Montreal Alouettes co-owner Gary Stern and Team President Mario Cecchini about talks with the XFL. Both stressed that these are not merger talks but finding common ways to help each other.
Stern was quick to point out that these are just talks and don’t read too much into them at this point.
“If something good comes out of it, fantastic. If it doesn’t, we’ll have learned a lot and maybe gotten different ideas on what we can incorporate or do in our own league. Talking never hurt.”
Cecchini talked about the importance of having a working relationship with The Rock, Dany Garcia, and RedBird Capital. Over the last several years the CFL has had an issue with attracting younger fans.
“Dwayne Johnson’s exciting from a perspective of global outreach.”
“He certainly knows a thing or two about fan engagement and marketing. Dany Garcia also is very bright. We’d be stupid not to listen. They’re bright and marketing savvy. We have a challenge attracting younger fans.”
Stern said a merger could be talked about only if it made sense for both leagues.
“The CFL has been around a long time and has an avid group of fans.”
“But it most certainly needs help, as COVID-19 pointed out.”
Last year the CFL asked the Canadian Government for a $30-million interest-free loan to make it through the 2020 season. They were denied and it was revealed during talks that the league lost collectively anywhere from $10 to $20 million in 2019.
Most of the league’s revenue comes from ticket sales which have been in decline over the last several years. According to the Washington Post in 2018.
“The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos — collected between 45 percent and 55 percent of their revenue from gate receipts and game-day concessions for an operating profit of between $1.4 million and $2.6 million.”
Stern and Cecchini both said there has been no talk of money or a merger at this point.
“There are so many things before we even get there.”
“I need to know what it looks like. I don’t feel like we should compromise too much. We want to protect our heritage; we’re proud of it.”
“This isn’t a do-or-die situation as far as the Alouettes are concerned.”
When it comes to merger talks the XFL does have RedBird Capital who just put $750 million into Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group in exchange for a 11% interest in the company, so they have the cash.
However, the XFL only has completed one season in its history and that was in 2001. The CFL has been around in some form for over 108 years. It will be interesting to see what this partnership brings.
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