Canadians love football just as much as their neighbours south of the border, with the Canadian Football League hosting its nine-team league across the country. For a few years in the 1990s, the CFL even tried to expand into the United States, although this nearly ruined the league financially.
So far, the NFL hasn’t managed to expand north of the border despite playing exhibition games and even four interleague CFL-NFL games in the 1950s and 1960s. Between 2008 and 2013, the Buffalo Bills even played some of their home games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
All the other major professional leagues in the United States already have at least one team north of the border. MLB has the Toronto Blue Jays, the NHL has seven teams, MLS has three clubs, and the NBA has the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors actually made history in 2019 when they became the first non-US team to win the NBA Championship. Off the back of this success, Oddschecker continues to rate them as a strong contender in 2020.
There are rumours that MLS intends to go even further, with discussions underway to create a joint US-Canada-Mexico soccer league.
So, in being an all-US league, the NFL is an outlier by not having any Canadian teams.
There have been discussions for decades about the possibility of expanding the NFL to include a team in Canada, with most of these talks focusing on Toronto. There are two options for achieving this, either creating a new team or relocating an existing one.
Relocating a team would be easier as having an odd number of teams might be a little problematic. There are also plenty of examples of relocations taking place in the past, including the recent move of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas ahead of the 2020 season.
The owner of the Atlanta Falcons, who in 2019 were the 17th most valuable team in the NFL, has expressed interest in moving his team to Toronto. The main hurdle to overcome before this can happen is the construction of a new stadium in the city as there are currently none that conform to the specifications required by the NFL.
A Matter of Time
With all other major leagues already moving teams into the city, it seems like only a matter of time before an NFL team makes Toronto its home. There is a huge market for sports there, one that could be very profitable for the new team, the league and the sport.