July 14, 2024
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Canadian Premier League Edmonton Elks

Room For Two? Elks President Wants To Share A New Stadium With A CPL Team

By on November 25, 2023 1 10029 Views

Community-owned since 1949, the CFL’s Edmonton Elks are now reviewing their ownership structure in a bid to secure a sustainable future.

The news was announced by interim president and CEO Rick LeLacheur, who said the club had formed a five-person committee to evaluate a transition to private ownership and, in an ideal situation, even pave way for a brand new stadium. For that to make more fiscal sense, he’d also like to see the CFL team share its pitch with another professional sporting team…say, one from the Canadian Premier League.

“The more days you get in a facility, the better off you are,” said LeLacheur. “Yeah, that’s just my opinion of what we need. You know, maybe that’s not gonna happen overnight, I fully understand that, but if you could get a new facility where you could play CFL football and Canadian Premier League soccer, then it fits for both.”

FC Edmonton Final Squad
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

The city of Edmonton has been without a professional soccer team since FC Edmonton folded just over one year ago. Its closure came a full season after the league was forced to take over operations when its founders ran out of funding. At that time, CPL commissioner Mark Noonan made it clear he’d like to see Canada’s top soccer flight plant a new flag in the city one day.

“We look forward to working with the City of Edmonton leadership on a strategy to return CPL to the market in an appropriate facility,” said Noonan at the time. “With the right venue, we fully believe Edmonton can, and should be, one of the best markets in the CPL.”

See Also: CPL Adds Marni Dicker To Help With Infrastructure

Noonan had earmarked one big target on a new club in the area: a proper venue to showcase their matches and provide a first-rate fan experience. LeLacheur has similar goals, saying the that Commonwealth Stadium wasn’t the stadium of the future and, despite its size, had a fair share of practical drawbacks.

“I know the city’s been looking at it, but it’s just it’s too big for today’s environment of the CFL and the type of seats that you can sell – you can sell suites, you can sell party decks, we’ve seen it in those other cities: groups a very important part of ticket sales in a CFL team. So we’re going to be looking at everything. If there’s an unlimited amount of dollars, I’d build new stadium. That’s what I do.”

FC Edmonton Tobias Warschewski
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

Of course, there isn’t an Mary Poppins-esque bag of money to dip into. For the immediate future, the Edmonton Elks have already begun discussions with potential private investors, including some local to the city. After having run a deficit for for four straight years and missing the 2020 season entirely, however, Edmonton’s CFL team has a large hole to dig out of.

“We are going to need a capital investment on the club going forward, because it’s going to take us a couple of years to get out of these losses we’ve been accumulating on an annual basis,” added LeLacheur. Whether those partners would be interested in establishing a shared venue with another sports team – or even owning the CPL side, a la Valour FC and Winnipeg Football Group – remains to be seen.

In the interim, the CPL has been searching for its own way back in, too.

“In Edmonton, I’d like to convince Alphonso Davies to get involved,” said the CPL’s commissioner revealed this summer. “It would be a good project for him and his community.”

Sports Bild reported that Davies earns about fourteen million dollars per year on his current Bayern Munich contract, and while that certainly gives the Canadian international plenty of capital, asking him to splash cash to revive his hometown club is no small task. While he’s always shown great care for his community, there are no concrete links between Alphonso and the CPL beyond this shout-out from the commissioner.

FC Edmonton Alan Koch 2021
Photo Credit: John Jacques

The Canadian Premier League currently operates eight clubs in comparison to the CFL’s nine, though the five-year-old soccer league is expected to add two clubs in 2025 and a further two in 2026. The difference in average attendance is stark, however: the CFL pulled in about 22,393 fans per game in 2023, while the CPL ran about 3,865.

Still, when you put those into ticket sales and venue purchases, that can be a big boost to a stadium ground that would otherwise sit empty. While LeLacheur’s comments are just spitballing an idea, the fact that it’s even on his mind is certainly food for thought.

Header Image Photo Credit: Edmonton Elks

1 Comment
  • Laura Passenger 7 months ago

    We moved to Edmonton Alberta in 2022 and were really saddened to realize there is no decent facility for a Canadian Premier League Soccer team. Considering Alfonso Davies is one of the stars of the best team in the German top flight Bundesliga and he comes from Edmonton, that is a sad situation. There is no way Edmonton could have hoped to get a venue when the World Cup comes to North America in 2026, since there is nothing to offer here. A huge expensive dome-covered stadium isn’t needed, or wanted. Just a decent facility that has covering over the spectators and is open over the field, like any 2nd tier league in Europe, and natural turf. Artificial turf is horrible and would be unacceptable for any international competition. I hope the idea of combining the use of Common Wealth Stadium between the Elks and an Edmonton Soccer team works, as long as the stands have a cover and their is natural turf; otherwise you won’t get the game quality or ticket sales wanted. Good luck!

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