While Montreal braces itself for Grey Cup weekend, the Canadian Football League is looking to host future football festivities in Moncton, N.B.
CFL commissioner Mark Cohon told a Montreal audience in his annual state-of-the-league address that he is planning to hold regular-season games in Moncton at the new track-and-field facility at the Université de Moncton.
Cohon said the main obstacle to Maritime expansion is the lack of a stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 20,000. However, Cohon said the CFL will look into staging 2010 regular-season games in Moncton at the new stadium that could see its seating expanded up to 20,000.
"With a stadium of that size, we think there's a real potential for us to do that,'' Cohon said.
Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he's had discussions with Cohon about bringing the CFL to Moncton for exhibition or regular-season games, so he was excited to see the plans come to light during the league's biggest weekend.
For the last several years, several politicians have mused about trying to secure a CFL franchise in Moncton. LeBlanc said bringing a regular-season game is a start that will give local football fans a taste of the CFL product.
"One of the main reasons is, biting off a brand new CFL team all at once is a lot to bite off. But taking in some regular-season games here is a good opportunity to assess things and see whether we can build a case for [a franchise]," he said.
"And at the same time, of course, it would be exciting and a lot of fun to have a CFL game here in Moncton."
LeBlanc isn't giving any hints on what teams he thinks would get the biggest draw in Moncton.
The argument for putting an expansion team into Moncton, as opposed to Halifax, which is the other rumoured candidate for a potential Atlantic franchise, is its central location in the Maritimes. LeBlanc said he realizes scoring a team in the Maritimes will be a challenge but he it isn't the Hail Mary that many thought it would be when talk first started.
"We're used to swinging above our weight class. There is no doubt it is a challenge," he said. "I'm not going to understate that, but to turn an old hockey analogy around, you don't score on any balls you don't throw."