CFL thriving in 2010: Cohon

The Canadian Football League is enjoying another banner season, with strong attendance, soaring television ratings and close games talking points in the first half.

Commissioner cites strong attendance, growing TV ratings, exciting product

The Canadian Football League is enjoying another banner season, with strong attendance, soaring television ratings and close games talking points in the first half.

Commissioner Mark Cohon expressed his delight Thursday following last weekend's successful Labour Day weekend games in Montreal, Saskatchewan, Hamilton and Calgary.

"Overall, the CFL is in a strong position," Cohon said in a statement released by the league. "The credit for that goes to players and coaches that put a great product on the field, a board of governors that provide us all with principled and dedicated leadership, partners who are so essential to our success, and most importantly, you, our fans."

The CFL is averaging 28,322 fans per game, noted Cohon, which is on pace with last season, while television ratings are up nine per cent.

Many fans have remained in their seats until the final whistle as 44.4 per cent of all games have been decided in the final three minutes of regulation.

The CFL is on track to set a record for the highest completion percentage in a season. So far, players have hauled in 62.9 per cent of pass attempts, slightly above the single-season mark of 62.7.

The other first-half highlights include:

  • Kickoff returns. The CFL is on pace to have the highest frequency of kick returns for touchdowns, one in every three games.
  • Scoring up five per cent over 2009 at 53.9 points per contest. That also represents a 15 per cent rise from 2006.
  • Selling out the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton one week after tickets went on sale to the general public in June and five and a half months prior to the game.
  • Touchdown Atlantic, the first-ever regular season CFL game in Atlantic Canada — set for Sept. 26 in Moncton between Edmonton and Toronto — sold out in only 32 hours.

"There is talk about making the game an annual event," Cohon said, "but a lot has to happen before we can seriously talk about expansion to Atlantic Canada.

"The best way I can put it is the tremendous enthusiasm of our fans out east has transformed this idea from a dream to a possibility, not a probability or a certainty, but a possibility."

Ottawa is expected to rejoin the league in 2013, seven years after the CFL suspended the Renegades franchise for what it said would be a year.

"City Council there has approved a beautiful redevelopment of Lansdowne Park, including a refurbished Frank Clair Stadium," said Cohon, adding "our football operations people are already discussing possible expansion draft rules with our teams."