CALGARY STAMPEDERS NOTES: CFL commish keeps eye on stadium situation
Randy Ambrosie wants to see the Calgary Stampeders play in a modern stadium.
The CFL commissioner has been open about the need for a new football stadium in Calgary, or at the very least, some major improvements to the ageing McMahon Stadium.
So far, though, there have been no substantial discussions about getting moving on replacing McMahon.
“It certainly comes up every time I set foot in Calgary,” Ambrosie said this week from the CFL’s winter meetings. “We were there for Grey Cup and it wasn’t really an appropriate time (to formally discuss public funding). I had the mayor sitting next to me more than once and I didn’t take the opportunity, because the hospitality that Calgarians showed was really rock-star status.
“I’d love to see the Stamps play in a state-of-the-art, beautiful stadium and I’d like to see their fans treated to a new stadium. There’ll be a time, and I’ll take my queues from (Calgary Sports & Entertainment executives) when they think it’s time for me to be a guy who makes a little noise and tries to stimulate a positive discussion.”
While CSEC came to terms on a deal with the city for municipal funding to go towards a new arena for the Flames, Hitmen and Roughnecks, there hasn’t been much discussion about a new football stadium.
Realistically, any new facility is going to require public money. CFL revenues aren’t going to cover the tens of millions of dollars — that may be understating things — that it’s going to take to build a modern stadium.
A new stadium is going to be needed at some point soon, though. McMahon Stadium has been around since 1960 and lacks modern amenities. At the very least, expensive renovations are going to be needed at McMahon within the next decade or so.
“I do think we will have to, at some point, join forces with the Stamps and really go to the city, go to the province and look, perhaps the most successful franchise in our league in the last 20 years, one of the best-run franchises in our league, I think at some point you have to say, ‘They certainly deserve to play in a facility that is befitting a team of their substance,’ ” Ambrosie said. “I’d like to see that happen, but you do have to pick your spots and obviously there was just an agreement for a new arena and I understand that’s obviously well underway.”
The Stampeders got a nice return from the Redblacks when they traded backup Nick Arbuckle to Ottawa last week.
The Redblacks wanted exclusive rights to negotiate with Arbuckle, who made it clear he wants a starting job, which wasn’t possible in Calgary with Bo Levi Mitchell ahead of him on the depth chart. To get those rights, the Redblacks sent the Stamps their third-round pick in the 2020 CFL Draft, and they’ll also swap first-round picks with the Stampeders if Arbuckle re-signs.
It was a nice bounty for a guy who was set to become a free-agent in a month, but Stamps president/GM John Hufnagel was able to point to the deal the Edmonton Eskimos made to get the rights to Mike Reilly from the B.C. Lions back in 2013.
“It was nice that Nick played at the high level he did that allowed all this to happen,” said Hufnagel. “When I was talking to the people that were interested, I said, ‘Look, let’s just do what they did with Mike Reilly a couple years ago when Mike was an up-and-comer and Edmonton stepped up and wanted exclusivity to talk to him before free agency.’
“It was a very similar trade.”
The Stamps are hopeful that with Arbuckle gone, last year’s third-stringer Montell Cozart will be able to step in to the No. 2 quarterback role.
“I’ve got to re-sign Montell, but he wanted to know what Nick was doing,” Hufnagel said. “We’ll get in touch with his agent when I get back from this trip.”
The Stamps still haven’t heard from Cory Greenwood about whether he wants to play next season.
The veteran linebacker had a great start to the 2019 season, but stingers nearly ended his season and he admitted afterwards that he’d have to take some time to think about his future.
“I don’t want to say too much because he was taking this time to decide,” Hufnagel said. “If his decision was, ‘Yes, I want to play again,’ then I would have to consult the doctors. He had a tough season at the end of it, he had a fantastic season at the start.”