How Many Teams in the CFL? | List of CFL Teams
While the Canadian Football League (CFL) may not command the global attention of the National Football League (NFL), it boasts a rich and unparalleled North American sports legacy.
Tracing its roots back to the early 1900s, the CFL has steadily grown over the years. Notably, the Grey Cup, its championship trophy, has been celebrated since 1909, marking it as one of the oldest trophies in professional North American sports. Moreover, there has been a surge in CFL betting activities, with punters keen on exploring odds beyond the NFL, adding another layer of engagement to the league.
So, how many teams make up this storied league? Join us as we delve into each CFL team, explore their histories, and unravel the answer to how many teams are in the CFL.
At the end of the day, how many teams in the CFL are there? As it turns out, there are now nine CFL franchises.
The Toronto Argonauts are the oldest, having been created back in 1893, some 60+ years before the CFL was officially formed. Let’s look at each franchise in-depth.
The Lions, founded in 1954, are not named for the famed cat. Instead, they were named for the Lions, which are a pair of mountain peaks that overlook Vancouver, the team’s home city. The team was actually named as the result of a marketing contest, landing on the Lions (which also happened to look like two mountain lions guarding the city).
The Lions are the oldest professional sports franchise in British Columbia and have had their share of success in the league. They have won the Western Division championship 10 times and tied for first another three times. On the list of CFL teams, they are perhaps most impressive by having a 20-game winning streak, the second-longest in CFL history.
The team has six Grey Cup Championships, the latest coming in 2011. That said, they now have the distinction of having one of the longest Grey Cup drought in the CFL, something that isn’t the most desirable amongst those on the list of CFL teams. They play at BC Place, one of the CFL’s largest stadiums.
Those interested in knowing how many teams are in the CFL will likely be able to name the Calgary Stampeders as one of the franchises they recognize.
Founded in 1945, football in Calgary has roots going back as far as 1891. In front of 4,000 fans, the newly formed Stampeders beat the Regina Roughriders 12-0, setting the tone for Stampeders football for decades to come.
The Stampeders have won the Western Division Championship an impressive 16 times, ripping off 11 between 1991 and 2018. They have also won the Grey Cup eight times, the last of their reigns coming in 2018.
The Stampeders have produced their fair share of Canadian Football Hall of Famers as well. Names like Doug Flutie, Dave Dickenson, Jon Cornish, and Willie Burden, among others, have all donned the red and black, representing Calgary football at the highest possible level.
Officially formed in 1949, Edmont’s CFL team has roots going back to the Edmonton Rugby Foot-ball Club in 1895. The team was also known as the Eskimos from their formation in 1949 until the rebranding of the football team in 2020 after concerns about the name being insensitive to the native peoples of Canada.
The important question here is not how many CFL teams are there but who has won the most Grey Cup Championships. Behind only Toronto, Edmonton has a whopping 14 Grey Cup Championships to its name, the latest of which came in the 2015 season.
Recently, however, things have been rough for the Elks. Though they hold the record for the most consecutive playoff appearances with 37 (1972-2005), they have a record that is a bit more dubious. On July 29, 2023, they set the North American major league sports record by losing their 21st consecutive home loss. The streak would end at 22, but it underscores how things have changed since that 2015 championship run.
Formed in 1950, the Tiger-Cats Football Club actually goes back to 1869. To avoid confusion, Hamilton – then known as the Tigers – rebranded to the Tiger-Cats in 1950 and haven’t looked back since. The Tiger-Cats have been a fixture in the CFL’s East division for years, racking up an impressive 22 division championships, including their latest in 2021.
Though the Tiger-Cats have become one of the better teams in the CFL, they have one notable item they’d like to change. As it stands, they currently have the longest Grey Cup drought in the CFL, having last won the title back in 1999. They have come close a few times, though they haven’t managed to snap the streak.
Hamilton has an impressive array of Canadian Football Hall of Famers in their history. Darren Flutie, Joe Montford, Ray Nettles, Hal Patterson, Terry Vaughn, Dieter Brock, and Tom Clements are just a few of the memorable names to come through town for this historic franchise.
The Alouettes were initially formed in 1946, but they have seen quite a bit of change since then. The club remained under the Alouettes banner until 1981, when the franchise was rebranded as the Montreal Concordes. That would last just three years before the team ultimately fell apart. Just one day before the 1987 season, the Alouettes folded and ceased operations.
It would be eight long years, but the path back to Montreal began in 1994. The Baltimore Football Club was given expansion rights, and the Baltimore Stallions came to be. Beginning with negotiations in 1996, the club would be reborn as the Alouettes once more, the team that remains at the heart of Montreal sports today.
The Alouettes have won their fair share of division championships, but their most notable achievement is the seven Grey Cup Championships they have won. They are in a bit of a drought, though they did manage to win back-to-back Grey Cup Championships in 2009 and 2010.
The Alouettes have had their share of great players throughout the years, with Anthony Calvillo perhaps being the greatest. He led them to three Grey Cups (2002, 2009, 2010) during his 15 years with the franchise. The Alouettes are trying to find their place among the elite of the sport, though they are currently a .500 franchise.
The Redblacks are the newest team on the block, having been founded before the 2014 season. They became the third team to play in the CFL from the nation’s capital. The Ottawa Rough Riders were one of the founding members of the CFL in 1958 and remained with the league until 1996. The Ottawa Renegades were formed in 2002 but managed to last until 2005.
In just their third season back in town, the Redblacks won the Grey Cup Championship in 2016. The team actually went back to the Grey Cup Championship Game in 2017, though they lost to the Calgary Stampeders, making their third consecutive appearance in the famous game.
Things have since bottomed out for the Redblacks. Their offensive stars, Greg Ellison and Trevor Harris, both signed with Edmonton prior to 2019. Major positions and front-office positions changed, putting the structure of the franchise into disarray.
The team has faced challenges since then, resulting in GM Marcel Desjardins’s departure in 2021 as the team seeks a stronger foundation.
With roots going back to 1910, there have been a few different iterations of the team throughout the years. Beginning as the Regina Rugby Club and spending more than two decades as the Regina Roughriders, the team name stuck, beginning with the 1948 season.
Unfortunately for Saskatchewan, they have been one of the least successful teams when it comes to winning it all. They have just four Grey Cup Championships to their name, though two of them came between 2007 and 2013. That said, the team does have a whopping 28 Western Division Championships, though the last came all the way back in 2013.
Things are a bit rough for the Roughriders of late. They finished 6-12 in 2022 and appear to be on pace for another sub-.500 season in 2023. The hope is that the franchise can find prior successes and get the team back on track after more than a decade as a losing club.
The Toronto Argonauts were founded in 1873 without any different iterations or changes as some other franchises have had. That makes them the oldest professional sports team in North American sports history. They are also the most successful team in CFL history.
You won’t find anyone with more championships on the list of CFL teams. They have won their division countless times, but the most impressive feat centers around the Grey Cup. They have the second-most appearances with 22 (behind only Winnipeg’s 23) and the most championships with 18. Their latest title came in 2022, giving them a substantial lead over Edmonton (14 titles).
The Argonauts are, without a doubt, the biggest franchise in the history of the CFL. They come with the most fanfare, have had the most historical success, and tend to attract top names. Some of their all-time names include Rodney Harding, Doug Flutie, Terry Greer, William Zock, Teddy Morris, and many other legends and Hall of Famers.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Blue Bombers are one of the oldest teams in the CFL, having been officially founded in 1930 and going by the name “the Winnipegs.” The Blue Bombers have changed their design a few times, but the royal blue, gold, and white have become a staple of the franchise since its inception.
On the list of CFL teams, you would be hard-pressed to find a team that has had more success than the Blue Bombers. The team has won the East Division seven times and the West Division an impressive 20 times (they have moved back and forth a few times through league realignment).
They are also third in CFL history with 12 Grey Cup Championships. They have one of the most impressive runs in recent CFL history, having won the Grey Cup in 2019 and 2021. They currently have one of the favourites to win the title in 2023 as they look to catch up to Edmonton’s 14 Grey Cup titles.
Expert's Conclusion on CFL Teams and Their Legacy
The Canadian Football League (CFL) has long been an integral part of the sports landscape in Canada. Its rich history, spanning from the early formation of teams like the Toronto Argonauts to the recent inclusion of franchises like the Ottawa Redblacks, showcases the evolution of Canadian football.
Each of the nine CFL Teams brings its unique narrative and contributions to the league, underscored by their pursuits of the coveted Grey Cup. As we review the teams and their respective achievements, it becomes evident that the CFL is not just about numbers and statistics; it’s a tapestry of teams, players, and moments that have shaped the sport in Canada.
There are currently nine teams in the CFL. The league features a 21-week regular season where each team plays 18 total games and has a trio of bye weeks.
There are currently nine CFL teams, which include the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Redblacks, Toronto Argonauts, B.C. Lions, Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Elks, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
While nothing is set in stone, there has been a lot of buzz in recent years about the expansion to a 10th team in the CFL. Those cities that could potentially join the list of CFL teams could include Quebec City, Halifax, and London ON.
The CFL was founded in 1959, which means that there are some very historic franchises. The Toronto Argonauts are not only the oldest franchise in the CFL but the oldest professional football team in all of North America, having been founded in 1893, well before the creation of the CFL.
Teams dress 45 players and have one player as a reserve. The 46-man roster has been in use for quite a while, creating just over 400 roster spots across the CFL.
Quebec City is currently the largest major Canadian city without a CFL franchise. That said, Halifax, London ON, and Victoria are not far behind in terms of size and the lack of a CFL team.
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Rowan is a sports betting journalist with an established presence in the sports media industry through his thought-invoking coverage and commentary surrounding major leagues like the NBA, NFL, and NCAA. While Rowan specializes in NBA, NFL, and NCAA college sports coverage, he consistently follows and reports on every major sport in North America.
Facts checked by Jake Skudder