Doug Ford’s NFL plans just got (slightly) less crazy
We’ve been following Doug Ford’s crusade to bring a professional football team to Toronto (sorry, Argos, you didn’t make the cut) because, well, we can’t turn our eyes away. The story has just the right mix of chutzpah and lunacy to grab and hold our attention. The latest news comes from an interview Ford did with The Score’s Brad Gagnon, in which the councillor both insists the National Football League “can’t keep ignoring a market this size” (um, we’re pretty sure it can and pretty much does) and hints that the brass at Rogers has a rather intriguing idea for how to accommodate the extra seating the Rogers Centre would need to, gulp, host the Super Bowl.
That’s right, the Super Bowl. According to Ford, Rogers is considering digging out the floor and dropping it down a couple levels to add another 15,000 seats around the base. We don’t know if that’s actually possible or just another part of Ford’s elaborate football fantasy. But if it is feasible, bringing an NFL team to Toronto sounds a lot more promising all of a sudden (we weren’t exactly supportive of Ford’s outrageous scheme to build a waterfront stadium connected to the downtown core via monorail).
It’s probably safe to assume the renovations Ford described would be cheaper than building a brand new stadium. Plus, the Rogers Centre is already extraordinarily well-served by road, subway and GO Transit—and it’s about to get even more connected with the creation of the air-rail link from Pearson to Union in anticipation of the Pan Am Games in 2015.
Our objections to building a new NFL stadium in Toronto have always been on economic grounds—namely, that such stadiums suck for cities. We assumed (regardless of the promises the Fords made) it would be impossible to build a new facility without it costing taxpayers an arm and a leg. But putting an NFL franchise in the Rogers Centre actually seems like a good idea—except, of course, for people currently employed by the Toronto Argonauts. For them, we suspect a new football team is about as welcome as the plague.