By Vidya Kauri
Rob Ford may have teased Ryerson with a football team during his campaign, but the costly idea is not likely to materialize.
With limited funds and questionable demand, a football team is not a priority right now, according to Ryerson president Sheldon Levy.
“I wouldn’t say its impossible but I would think it’s a long shot and we would really have to see if that’s the next sport we would add,” he said.
In 2004, Brock University conducted a feasibility study that found the cost to start a successful university football team to be approximately $8 million. The price tag included, among other things, a playing field, stadium, coaching staff, athletic therapists, uniforms, travel and recruitment costs.
Carleton University’s football dreams were also short-lived. The university had to lay their football team to rest in 1998 because it cost approximately $300,000 annually just to maintain the team without achieving good results.
Part of Carleton’s problem was that thousands of dollars had to be spent just to ensure that helmets met mandatory safety regulations each year.
In the GTA, the University of Toronto and York University interchangeably hold the record for the worst football team in Ontario according to Ryerson’s director of athletics Ivan Joseph.
“My gut reaction is that a football team would be great, but only if we can do it right,” Joseph said.
He added that if the city and Ryerson can find a facility close to campus, it could also be used for many other student clubs and athletic teams such as ultimate Frisbee.
But starting a new team would shift the focus away from other teams which are still in need of work, according to Joseph.
“There are only so many resources to go around and we have to take care of our existing teams first.”
Ryerson University once had a football team in the fifties and early sixties.
But the team was retired due to high operating costs, student apathy and lack of proper facilities.
Toby Whitfield, president of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) said he would like to see the mayor talking about issues that he thinks are a priority for students, like the future long-term plans for Gould Street, affordable housing and discounted TTC tokens.
“I don’t think Rob Ford has done research on issues important to Ryerson students,” Whitfield said. “I know students are looking forward to the opening of the Maple Leaf Gardens, but there is no great demand for a football team.”
Not all students agree. In an unscientific survey of about 50 Ryerson students, most welcomed the idea of a football team as a way to boost community spirit.
But Joseph thinks it would be positive only if it was a success.
“There is a problem with funding football in the GTA. I don’t want to build a football team to join that. It would negatively affect community spirit and pride.”
Photo courtesy of Nick Villani