Friday, January 31, 2014

Bad Weather, Is Tim Horton's Field Even Farther Behind

In a post on January 22, I reacted to the news that the new Ticats stadium is behind schedule, for various reasons, including the weather and a bankrupt contractor.

It is now the 30th of January and the weather since the 22 has been really, really cold in Hamilton, probably the worst case scenario for stadium construction. No days of thaw have occurred in that time period either so the site is going to be snow and ice encrusted.

If February ends up being colder than normal, the stadium project could be really behind. In theory construction could be sped up with more workers, but with five months until July first, we are coming to crunch time. Missing the first few weeks of July can be accommodated by the schedule, two months becomes a major problem. Expect a delayed schedule this year as well.

Probably a media update will arrive some time in February.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whoa. Ticats Sign Zach Collaros and Release Henry Burris

Seems that Kent Austin isn't afraid to shake things up. Funnily I was thinking this morning about the Ticat Collaros rumours and whether signing him would make the Cats better in 2014 versus keeping Burris. My thoughts were that the Cats probably would be a little better with Burris this year, but better with Collaros next year.

Burris had a decent year with the Cats in 2013, but somewhat unusually for a head coach, Austin wasn't afraid to put in his backups for a series or two in many games. It certainly seemed odd at the time, but it did seem to be effective.

Burris is obviously quite old now, even by CFL quarterbacking standards. Can he still be effective? I think he can and certainly the Bombers would have been better in 2013 with Burris at the controls rather than the pivots they trotted out. I'm guessing he ends up in Winnipeg.

I'm sad to see Burris go. He got the Ticats to the Grey Cup in 2013 (although lets not talk about 2012) for the first time since 1999. That's something important. But football is not a game for sentimentalists. We'll see how things pan out for Collaros with the Ticats.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Analysis: First Ontario Buys Copps Coliseum Naming Rights

So First Ontario is going to be the new naming rights holder for Copps Coliseum. The Spec is reporting that the amount is $350,000 per year for ten years. In a previous post about the topic, I guessed $200,000 a year (and I thought that might be a little high). I'm a bit surprised as basically there's not a lot of non-Hamilton exposure, as with the Bulldogs and concerts you won't have an effect like with Tim Horton's sponsorship for Ivor Wynne's replacement where the Ticats' stadium are constantly being mentioned nationally on TSN broadcasts.

On the other hand, Copps gets big concerts occasionally like the upcoming Kanye West concert when the Air Canada Centre is busy with the Leafs and Raptors, so people around Southern Ontario will hear the First Ontario name. Since First Ontario is pretty focused on Hamilton and its surrounding areas anyways, national name recognition isn't going to help them much anyways.

By way of comparison, Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, home of the NHL Senators has a 15 year 21 million dollar naming rights deal, so considering there is no NHL team $350,000 is a respectable number.

There's no known number for the Ticats from Tim Horton's sponsorship, but there are reports it is between $1 and $1.5 million per year.

Where is the money going? According to the Spec article not directly to the city:

"The 10-year naming deal is worth about $350,000 annually — unless an NHL team suddenly comes to town, in which case the deal would be revisited, Warren added.
The sponsorship doesn't put cash directly into city coffers, but it does push the aging, deficit-plagued entertainment venues closer to profitability.
Once Global Spectrum starts making money on Copps and Hamilton Place, the city will cash in with a 70 per cent cut of any profits over $450,000, said city finance head Mike Zegarac.
For now, the sponsorship deal will help cut the annual city subsidy for former HECFI properties."

Ticats Trade DB Matt Bucknor to the Bombers for WR Giovanni Aprile

Just saw on Twitter that the Cats have traded 28 year old non-import DB for 24 year old WR Giovanni "Johnny" Aprile. Personally I'm excited for the possibility of Sopranos jokes although I hope things go better for Aprile than they did for Jackie Junior on the show.

Bucknor was actually a Hamilton boy, going to Hill Park for high school and then Windsor and was undrafted. Aprile was drafted by the Bombers in the third round.

Bucknor had some decent stats in 2012 with 43 tackles and 4 special teams tackles, whereas he only had 2 and 5 in 2013. The Cats had been using a Canadian starting cornerback the past few years. I'm guessing that experiment is pretty much over.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

CFL Getting Rid of the Extra Point

This Toronto Star article discusses the CFL discussions on getting rid of the extra point after a TD. I do like the idea of making the TD seven points by itself and then adding a point if a what is now a two point convert is executed or losing a point if it fails.

One side effect of this is that the leagues scoring leaders would be less likely to be kickers as there no longer would their be an extra point for kicks and TD scorers would have more points assigned to them.

If the CFL wanted to be really crazy they could make the TD worth eight points to increasing the importance of TDs versus field goals. Of course that would screw with a lot records.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Uh Oh, Tim Horton's Field Behind Schedule

In a previous post about the 2014 CFL schedule I was wondering about the construction schedule for the new Ticats stadium and the effect of winter. Unsurprisingly it has been announced that the stadium is behind schedule because of weather and a contractor going bankrupt according to this Spec article.

As I mentioned in the schedule post, both Ottawa and Hamilton have stadiums that might not be ready and will want to be on the road for the first month (July) of the season. This is going to cause scheduling problems. Expect a late schedule this year.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Anthony Calvillo Officially Retired

Just saw that Anthony Calvillo has officially announced his retirement from the Alouettes after a 20 year career. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kent Austin Nominated for 2013 CFL Coach of the Year

Kent Austin was nominated along with Saskatchewan's Corey Chamblin and Calgary's John Hufnagel.

The Annis Stukis trophy is interesting because it is decided after the season. Obviously from that Chamblin could win for winning the Grey Cup, however I think Austin has a good chance, taking the 2012 6 and 12 Ticats to a 10 and 8 regular season in 2013 and winning two playoff games before losing in the Grey Cup. Although losing badly in the Grey Cup might not help.

Scott Milanovich won it last year after winning the Grey Cup. Kent Austin has already won the trophy in 2007 when the Riders won the Cup.

The last Hamilton winner was Greg Marshall in 2004.

Friday, January 17, 2014

When Does the 2014 CFL Schedule Get Released?

Last year the 2013 CFL schedule was released historically late on March 5th. The previous year was February 18th. There's no question of an Atlantic game this year (at least I don't think there is after the damp squib that was the 2013 Moncton game, although I had fun attending, if you define fun as I do as drinking copious amounts of alcohol)).

Things to look for this year? Wackiness from having nine teams which will unbalance the schedule. Look for more mid-week games this year because of that. Ideally you would stick Saskatchewan with some of those because they will sell out anyways, especially after coming off a Cup win. Also look for both Ottawa and Hamilton to be on the road early because their new stadiums won't be ready. One team needing away games early is annoying enough, but two will be really annoying for the schedule maker.

For Labour Day, I'm assuming Toronto will be back in Hamilton (haven't checked the Jays schedule, but they are probably home that weekend anyways). It would be nice for Ottawa to host Montreal annually on the weekend (maybe as the Friday game) and would probably boost their attendance. Sorry BC!

Getting back to Hamilton stadium, the winter weather has been crappier this year than in previous years, so how that affects the stadium completion date will be interesting. I'd don't always agree with Ancaster councilor Lloyd Ferguson's Ancaster first policies (bike lanes for Wilson street, bupkis for downtown), but I'm inclined to listen to his construction experience if he cares to opine on the matter again. No July dates would be poor, no August dates would be disastrous. I don't feel like trekking to Guelph again and missing out on my Prince Edward Tavern time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The NHL and the Falling Canadian Dollar

Tigercatatonia isn't always just Ticats posts.

With that said, watching the Canadian dollar fall over the last few months to below 92 cents US from a long period slightly above and below parity makes one think about the effects on NHL revenues. Those revenues determine the salary caps and floors that accompany them and are priced in US dollars.

I'm willing to bet the Canadian dollar falls below 90 cents US in the next six months, especially with the bad Ontario jobs numbers released in December. So that could be a year on year decrease in Canadian team revenue of over 10%. With seven Canadian teams out of 30, that wouldn't seem to be so problematic if every team in the NHL had the same revenues, but the Canadian teams make significantly more than the average Canadian team.

The NHL is having a good year attendance wise (see this CBS Sports article comparing NHL sellouts versus NBA sellouts; five Canadian teams have sold out all their games) so decreasing Canadian revenue probably will just counteract rising revenues. Still the salary caps and floors won't rise as much as if the Canadian dollar stayed around parity.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good Article About CFL's US Expansion Experiment

This article is a book review of Ed Willes new book End Zones and Border Wars about the CFL's expansion to the US in the 90s. The article mentions how the era is one fans would prefer to forget and I don't blame them as it is pretty depressing. One tidbit from the article (and obviously the book) that I found interesting was this:

"The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the three year $33 million dollar deal expired, the league scrambled."

Wow. $11 million a year seems like a lot for beer money even today. I'm not sure if the CFL and local team deals together would come to that much. I've always thought that the CFL teams could probably do better with beer sponsorship but with the current duopoly of Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch InBev it isn't that easy to play teams off of each other. 
The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the threeyear $33 million deal expired, the league scrambled. - See more at:
The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the threeyear $33 million deal expired, the league scrambled. - See more at:
The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the threeyear $33 million deal expired, the league scrambled. - See more at:
The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the threeyear $33 million deal expired, the league scrambled. - See more at:
The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the threeyear $33 million deal expired, the league scrambled. - See more at:
The CFL was secure in the hands and hops of Carling O'Keefe in the 1980s, but when the threeyear $33 million deal expired, the league scrambled. - See more at:

First Ontario Wants Naming Rights for Copps Coliseum

I was a little surprised to see this Spec article about the Hamilton headquartered credit Union First Ontario wanting to buy the naming rights for Copps Coliseum. No real talk in the article of how much those naming rights would be worth. For comparison, the Tim Horton's deal for the replacement for Ivor Wynne has been reported as between $1 million and $1.5 million per year.

In terms of teams there's the AHL Bulldogs playing there, plus various concerts (like the announced Kanye West concert) and monster truck motocross type events. The Bulldogs don't get mentioned as much on national television broadcasts as the Ticats (no Grey Cup possibility either) so the per year estimate on what it is worth have to be considerably less. There is more car traffic (and probably of a more valuable demographic) by the arena than the old Ivor Wynne, but certainly not as much as past BMO field in Toronto with the Gardner going by. If I had to take a stab in the dark, maybe $200,000 per year (as a hockey arena comparison, the Ottawa Senators arena has a $21 million 15 year deal with Scotiabank). There's probably value for First Ontario as they have operation beyond Hamilton, but not a lot farther so any advertising value beyond regional isn't of much use anyway.

One thing the article somewhat skimmed over is what arena operator Global Spectrum is getting out of this. I assume some percentage as part of the operating agreement with the city of Hamilton. I'm sure that information is already out there somewhere.

With regards to the Copps name, it has been almost 40 years since Victor Copps was mayor and the name has been on the arena for many years. What the family thinks to me doesn't matter. I believe Sheila Copps doesn't even live in the city anymore.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dave Stala Released by Ticats, Signed by Montreal

I'm not totally surprised by the release as hometown hero Stala was on the downside of his career at 34. Did he still have enough to contribute as a Canadian backup at receiver? Who knows. The Cats are pretty flush with import receivers and with Andy Fantuz and Sam Giguerre as their non-import starters at receiver, that's enviable. They still need a valid Canadian backup though.

Incidentally I once met Stala when a friend was doing a photo shoot with him and some kids at Ivor Wynne during the off-season. Nice guy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cats Sign Kicker Justin Medlock and Ottawa Signs Nick Setta

Retro kicker signings. The Cats have apparently resigned former kicker and punter (and former Argo) Justin Medlock after some NFL time. The Red Blacks have signed another former Ticat kicker and punter Nick Setta. Setta has been out of football for some time. Both are unusual in the CFL as they are imports for a usually non-import position.

Medlock was probably one of the better kickers the Ticats have had when one takes into account his range. Medlock often booted upper forty yard kicks for the Cats during his tenure; more recent Cats not so much.