puts fans in the game

The Canadian Football League is approaching the second phase of its Web site and is building a stats database exclusively for fan use.

A contract for that database is yet to be signed, said the CFL’s chief marketing officer Brent Scrimshaw, but it will become part of and tie into the site’s existing fantasy leadgue. is powered by Sun Microsystems, which also provides the infrastructure for other sports Web sites, including the NHL and Major League Baseball. in particular has become an inspiration for the CFL’s new look, said the league’s chief marketing officer Brent Scrimshaw. Sun is “fully Web-enabling our business, and that’s taken the league a long way from where we were,” said was given a new face in 2003 when the contract with Sun was first announced. Version two of will go live this April.

“We had a fairly flat site up until the launch of version one. With version two, we’ll be into searchable stats with considerably more complexity on the site,” said Scrimshaw.

Some of the Web site’s upgrades are being done on a subcontract basis by Hamilton, Ont.-based Web design firm MRX, owned by Bob Young. Young is better known as the founder of Red Hat Inc. and the owner of the CFL franchise the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The CFL also recently moved its Web site hosting from the Canoe network, owned by Quebecor Media to Peer 1 Network Enterprises Inc., based in Vancouver. has moved into Peer 1’s Toronto data centre through a co-location agreement.

“The reason why most people choose co-location is to give themselves the opportunity to have complete control over their servers. So that allows them to have 24×7 access to our data centre,” said Rajan Sodhi, director of marketing and communications for Peer 1.

Previously, servers were split between different locations in Hamilton and Toronto, said Scrimshaw.

“It’s important having it all in the same location. There’s no question about that. Peer 1 has a support team that can assure this league, essentially, of no downtime. With our fan base, that’s key,” he said.

“Moreover, our traffic has increased substantially and we expect that will continue with the growth of the league.”

According to the CFL, Web traffic for the 2005 Grey Cup increased 74 per cent over the average daily traffic for regular-season games. The total number of visitors in 2005 increased 14 per cent over the previous year.

Scrimshaw said the league is currently looking at broadcasting actual games online. “Our ability to handle video is becoming increasingly more important.”

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