CFL teams: How many teams are in the Canadian Football League?

With the Canadian Football League more than 60 years old, what is the number of CFL teams in existence, and what are their histories?

The Canadian Football League (CFL) began in 1958 and has largely been an ever-present part of the football landscape since. Now more than 60 years after the league’s conception, what is the current number of CFL teams, how long have those teams been in existence, and has the league tried to introduce any other franchises?

CFL teams

The current number of CFL teams is nine, with four in the East Division and five in the West Division. The return of a franchise to Ottawa in 2014 took the league back to nine teams after the team was suspended back in 2006. The CFL briefly expanded beyond the nine teams we see now when they attempted to expand into the United States in 1993 before abandoning the idea in 1995.

East Division

  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats
  • Montreal Alouettes
  • Ottawa Redblacks
  • Toronto Argonauts

The Tiger-Cats hold the record for Grey Cup — the CFL’s Super Bowl — appearances (20). Unfortunately, with only six wins to their name, that means they also hold the record for the most Grey Cup losses with 14. The Tiger-Cats also own the record for the longest drought without winning it all (1999). Founded in 1950, they play their home games at Tim Hortons Field, which has a capacity of 24,000.

The Alouettes are in their second run as a franchise after briefly disbanding between 1987 and 1996. They have six Grey Cup victories to their name, the last being in 2010, and have lost in the championship game on eight occasions. They currently play at the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, which holds 20,025.

The Redblacks returned in 2014, but their history as a franchise stretches right back to 1876 as the Ottawa Rough Riders. Until 1996, the franchise had been one of the longest-running in the league. The Rough Riders won the Grey Cup nine times, and the Redblacks have a 1-2 record in the game since their return in 2014. They currently play their games at TD Place Stadium, which holds 24,000.

The final CFL team in the East Division is the Argonauts, whose history dates all the way back to 1873. Since then, the argonauts have played every recognized Canadian football season and have not changed names. Toronto has played in the Grey Cup game 10 times, winning seven, the most recent in 2017. They play their games at BMO Field, which holds 25,000.

West Division

  • BC Lions
  • Calgary Stampeders
  • Edmonton Elks
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions franchise is the newest of the CFL teams in terms of its origins, having been founded in 1954. However, since then, they have been ever-present. They have a 6-4 record in Grey Cup matches, with their last victory in 2011. They play their games at BC Place, which holds 54,320.

The Stampeders’ history dates back to the end of the Second World War in 1945. They have a 7-8 record in Grey Cup games and most recently took home the trophy in 2018. They play their games at McMahon Stadium, which holds 35,400.

The Elks are the defending Grey Cup champions from 2021. The franchise was founded in 1949 but has a history dating back to 1911. Additionally, they changed their name for the 2021 season. Having been known as the Eskimos throughout history, they became the Elks and immediately found success. Edmonton has the most Grey Cup wins (11) among CFL teams (eight losses). They play their games at Commonwealth Stadium, which holds a league-high 56,302.

The Roughriders franchise dates all the way back to 1910, but despite a storied history, their record in the CFL is less than stellar. Only three teams have been to fewer Grey Cup games than the Roughriders’ 11. Equally, only the Redblacks, whose history dates back to just 2014, have won the Grey Cup fewer times than the Roughriders’ four victories. The Roughriders play their games at Mosaic Stadium, which holds 33,350.

Last but not least are the Blue Bombers of Winnipeg, whose franchise history dates back to 1930, with a lineage stemming from 1887. The Blue Bombers are tied with the Ottawa Rough Riders as the second most successful of the CFL teams in its history, with nine Grey Cup victories from 15 appearances. They play their games at IG Field, which holds 33,234.

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