The CFL says it's not interested in revisiting expansion to the United States, but former Miami Dolphins receiver Oronde Gadsden still wants to try.
Gadsden, who played with Miami from 1998 to 2003, has put together a group that plans to pursue a CFL expansion franchise for either Detroit or Rochester, N.Y.
"I'm going to put my best foot forward," Gadsden said from Miami. "I'm going to try. I've got a few interested guys down here with myself.
"Because of the suspension of the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, there's lots of people in South Florida who don't have a chance to play. In these financial times, you are looking for something with stability and the CFL is extremely stable."
Gadsden played in both the AFL and NFL Europe before joining the Dolphins. Though Gadsden never played in Canada, he said he knows many players who have, including current Dolphins running back Ricky Williams and Gadsden's cousin John Avery, who spent five years in the CFL.
"I know a little bit about it because I looked at it when I was doing my tour around the AFL and World League [later known as NFL Europe]" he said. "We want it to be a win-win situation for everyone involved. The two cities that I've put my finger on are Rochester and Detroit."
Gadsden said he believes those sites would be ideal because they are border cities where people are already familiar with the Canadian game.
"It's a great bang for your buck for what you pay to see it," said Gadsden, who caught Dan Marino's last touchdown pass in the NFL. "I think you could get the best of both worlds if you get a team on the U.S. border, with 12 players and three downs, you could have a great thing.
"Detroit and Rochester border Canada and people in those two cities already watch CFL on TV so it's not a big change, not like bringing it to Miami."
Gadsden's biggest problem will be that - after the ill-fated southern expansion in the early 1990s - the CFL has apparently no interest in returning to the United Sates.
"The CFL has not discussed the opportunity of U.S. expansion with this group," league spokesman Jamie Dykstra said. "We have no interest in adding an expansion franchise in the United States. Our focus is on building our league in Canada."
Gadsden's plan actually reflects the CFL's original designs on U.S. expansion, which were built around the idea of expanding to cities located within driving distance of the border.
However, when the league's first two expansion suitors turned out to be San Antonio (the first edition of which folded before playing a game) and Sacramento, the league shelved that priority and went to Baltimore, Las Vegas, Memphis, Birmingham, Ala., and Shreveport, La. The league returned to San Antonio for the 1995 season after relocating the franchise from Sacramento.
"It's something that can be done. I know it's been done before but I think [not locating teams close to the border]was the downfall," Gadsden said. "Like I said, I don't think a team would work in Miami or for [Canadian]teams to travel to Miami."
The CFL in recent years has tried to distance itself from its expansion years, adopting a more nationalist platform and suggesting that expansion to the U.S. was a mistake.
However, Montreal Alouettes owner Robert Wetenhall is on record of supporting a return to the U.S. built on the concept of targeting border cities.
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