CFL

Schultz: Disparity in quality of CFL homes is obvious

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Chris Schultz
8/18/2014 1:34:28 PM
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Just about everyone I know works. Not all, but the vast majority.

And everybody that I know who works has a place to go to work that makes a difference. A difference in that they have the resources to assist them to perform at their jobs, day after day.

One of the competitive disparities in the CFL right now is that some teams, like the Edmonton Eskimos, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Ottawa Redblacks, have an inviting feel of professionalism when you visit their home environments and you're impressed.

It's all there - the stadium itself, meeting rooms, weight rooms, the equipment, advanced technology and I could go on. Athletic facilities are a marvelous collection of useful implements to improve. The spaces for the Calgary Stampeders, B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders seem to be good, but not great. For the Montreal Alouettes, the space is perhaps not great, yet it's still functional. But for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts, this has been a nightmare.

The Argos have to get their own home and the Tiger-Cats - come Labour Day - must make Tim Hortons Field their own.

Understand that I am completely spoiled and tainted when it comes to football atmospheres and their physical needs. At 18, I went from a modest high school to NCAA Division I football - and that first year was the most difficult year of my athletic life. But what kept me there was the environment. It was big time. Every aspect, every detail and every nuance at the University of Arizona was magnificent. As much as I was in over my head on the football field, I would never consider quitting. My desire to be a part of the university was greater than any anxiety I felt being a freshman at a Division I school...and that first year was nothing but anxiety.

From there, after being drafted, making and playing for the Dallas Cowboys what I though was great at Arizona was good, but not as good as I experienced in Dallas. Being cut by the Cowboys and coming to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto...well, that was different.

What ' interesting about football is that the best facilities do not transfer into wins. Whether it is the CFL, NFL, NHL, NBA or MLB, there are many teams that just don't have quality to win anyway. Still, for Toronto and Hamilton (and I will include Montreal here), it needs to change.

I have no idea what's going to happen to the Toronto Argonauts in the future. Where they are going to play? What stadium they will play in next year? And their practice facilities are going to be where?

I have no idea if Hamilton will play its Labour Day game in their new stadium or at a university stadium?

Are the powers that be in the CFL - are they on top of this? To that, I say yes with confidence. Do the teams have a plan if stadiums and other facilities aren't ready? That I don't know.

In some ways, the stability of the league has never been better. But in other ways, there's a long way to go. Each team needs a home that impresses, that creates revenue and that becomes part of the community. The home needs to be multi-purpose without one function taking away from any of its others. And it needs to be a place for its employees to go to work with anticipation and pride. Some in the league have it, some do not.

Here is hoping that the Argos find a home soon and create a new, empowering practice complex soon.

Here is hoping the Ticats play in Week 10 on Sept. 1 and stay for a long, long time in their new shiny stadium. Going into the second half of the year, a new home could be just the shot of adrenaline that the team needs.

Chris Van Zeyl (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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