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Ambrosie: 'I really believe there's an opportunity for expansion'

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie - The Canadian Press

In the midst of the Canadian Football League off-season with free agency on the horizon, expansion remains top of mind for league commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

The Winnipeg native, who was appointed the 14th commissioner of the CFL in 2017, joined the CFL's The Waggle podcast on Wednesday and touched on the ever-hot topic that is a 10-team league.

"It's a priority for me," Ambrosie said. "It's not of my own making; this is a priority that our governors have asked me to embrace."

"I really believe there's an opportunity for expansion. We're certainly not giving up on Atlantic Canada, not by any stretch, but at some point, you have to say, "Okay, look, we've done all we can do.'"

Ambrosie said he hopes Atlantic Canadians would say that the league has shown a lot of love to the region and made it clear they want to be there with the rebirth of the Touchdown Atlantic series - but, he added, "The region has to find a way to pull us in if that's part of our destiny.”

Ambrosie comments come months removed from his State of the League address in November at the 110th Grey Cup, when he last provided an update on the topic.

“I can tell you that we have been in a conversation with a highly engaged, very qualified potential owner in Atlantic Canada,” Ambrosie said then. “And those conversations will continue through the Grey Cup weekend, and beyond."

“We need to bring this to a conclusion at some point. No matter how much we want to be there, and it would be great our have our 10th team in Atlantic Canada, would be great to be in Halifax… The conversation with this current phenomenal ownership candidate will continue.

"But I will say to him, to anyone who is included, ‘At some point, we have to decide whether we’re going to do it or not.’ And if we’re going to do it, let’s do it.’”

While not in talks with any prospective owners at the moment, Ambrosie talked about Quebec City and its potential to be a great market.

"There's a great football culture in Quebec City, one of the strongest amateur football communities in all of Canada," Ambrosie said. ”Lots of reasons to like this market.”

The province of Quebec has become a football powerhouse at all levels of Canadian Football and had a banner year in 2023 with the Montreal Alouettes winning the 110th Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. And at the collegiate level, the University of Montreal defeated the UBC Thunderbirds for their second title.

The Carabins also claimed their second consecutive Women's Canadian Collegiate Flag Football title, defeating the University of Quebec at Montreal. The Laval Rouge et Or also hold the record for the most Vanier Cups with 11.

The National Football League has also started to take notice, as players like Super Bowl champion and McGill product Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (2019), current Washington Commanders' cornerback Benjamin St-Juste and 2023 draft picks Matthew Bergeron (Atlanta Falcons) and Sidy Sow (New England Patriots) all hailing from La Belle Province.