Any discussion of a future Canadian Football League team in Quebec City must first go through Montreal.
The Alouettes, it seems, own the rights for all of La Belle Province.
That admission by league commissioner Mark Cohon turned some heads at his annual Grey Cup state of the league news conference here in Edmonton on Friday morning, as he answered questions about the chances of a second Quebec franchise.
All of Quebec "is part of their territorial rights,” Cohon said, adding that there have not been any discussions with the Alouettes or their owner, Robert Wettenhall, about whether the team would or would not support a second club within 200 kilometres.
“But if we were to ever go there, [the Als] would have to be part of the negotiation because they own those rights.”
The commissioner said no such discussion has been held with Montreal and that Wettenhall, who saved football in that city with his leadership and has been one of the league’s strongest owners, has never said anything to him about it.
Nation's capital 1st priority
Cohon is still trying to put the finishing touches on the return of the CFL to Ottawa, a city that hosted the Rough Riders for more than 100 years until they disappeared in the mid-1990s, then had the Renegades for four years in the new century before giving way to financial woes.
He said during Friday's news conference that Ottawa now has “a dream team of prospective owners” who are working to get the franchise back on its feet in the next few years. But there is still no specific date for startup.
Ottawa is set to host the Grey Cup in 2014.
Moncton, N.B., held a regular-season CFL game this past summer and did well, boosting its hopes at becoming the league's 10th franchise, something Cohon is enthusiastic about. But the city still has to secure ownership and an expansion of its stadium.
Quebec City, meanwhile, has experienced a massive growth in football interest over the last decade, from minor ball to high school and CEGEP, the two-year pre-university program in the province.
Laval University's Rouge et Or team draws 12,000 to 14,000 fans a game and is the most successful of Canada’s programs, selling out most contests.
Cohon said he had conversations about the university's stadium a few years ago with Laval officials, but they were not interested in expanding to CFL size. They've already expanded for this season, adding some seats to their stadium on the outskirts of the city.
“They have their football,” the commissioner said.