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Toronto politician aims for NFL franchise north of border

  • By NFL.com
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Toronto councillor Doug Ford told TheScore.com that the National Football League just might be ready to become the International Football League.

Ford said NFL Canada told him that Toronto is high on the list of cities awaiting a franchise, and he believes Los Angeles is the only city with a higher priority.

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"Once they take care of Los Angeles, we're going to fly over to New York, set up a meeting with (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell and give him our pitch," Ford said.

Ford said he believes the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints are in play for possible relocation.

Saints vice president of communications Greg Bensel disagrees.

"Reports about the Saints as a potential team moving to Toronto are completely false," Bensel told USA Today on Thursday. "The New Orleans Saints are committed to the city of New Orleans."

According to The Times-Picayune, the Saints recently signed a 20-year deal with the state of Louisiana to play at the Superdome.

Ford apologized later for including the Saints in the speculation.

"It was an off-the-cuff remark I should not have made," Ford told The Times-Picayune. "It was rumor that had it, it was just a rumor and I should be careful with rumors. And I would like to apologize to all of the folks in New Orleans and Louisiana who have gone through so many struggles."

Goodell said in February that Toronto lacks a stadium that lives up to NFL standards. No problem, said Ford, who envisions building a new waterfront venue. He also suggested that Rogers Centre, where the Buffalo Bills have played regular-season games, could be expanded to meet league requirements.

"(The NFL) want(s) to expand internationally," Ford said. "But what better expansion than down the street to Toronto? They can't keep ignoring a market this size."

With a population of aproximately 2.5 million, Toronto is the fifth-largest city in North America behind Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

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