Watch the CFL commissioner’s state of the league address

Watch live coverage of CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s annual state of the league address on Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. MT from Calgary, site of the 2019 Grey Cup.

This year’s edition pits the Hamilton Tiger-Cats against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday night at McMahon Stadium.

Ambrosie will address the media two days prior to the big game, where he’s expected to answer questions on a number of issues facing the league.

Early this week, Ambrosie said the CFL still has a lot of work to do in stopping gender-based violence. In 2015, the CFL put in place a policy to address violence against women that included mandatory annual training and sanctions when there is a clear and documented case of assault.

Depending on the severity and number of incidents, the sanctions could range from a single-day suspension to a lifetime ban from the CFL.

But Ambrosie says there is still a lot to learn, and he would like to see more players and coaches out in the community talking about the issue.

The CFL boss can expect another round of questioning regarding concussion. Where the NFL has acknowledged there is a link between concussions and the neurodegenerative disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), the CFL continues to resist doing so.

“What scientists are telling us is, yes, there have been hockey players and football players that have been diagnosed with CTE. That is a fact,” Ambrosie told the House of Commons subcommittee on sports-related concussions last April. 

“But there are thousands and thousands and thousands of football players and hockey players that have played the game without having CTE.”

Expansion question

On the expansion front, it appeared Halifax was close to becoming the 10th CFL franchise a year ago after Atlantic Schooners — the team name —was unveiled.

But with the stadium still in flux, an expansion team in Atlantic Canada doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon.

The group that wants to build a CFL stadium in Halifax has updated its proposal, which it says reduces the financial risk to the municipality and is the best deal for any stadium jurisdiction in North America.

Besides building a stadium in Shannon Park, Schooner Sports and Entertainment (SSE) is hoping to attract a CFL team that would serve as an anchor tenant.

The original proposal was submitted in August, and details were made public at the end of September.

Last month, city council voted on a motion from Dartmouth Coun. Sam Austin to end talks regarding the stadium. Austin’s motion was voted down 9-8.

“It didn’t pass in regards to walking away from any further exploration, but it came pretty darn close,” said SSE founding partner Anthony LeBlanc.