CFL signed record television contract with Carling-O'Keefe Breweries for $15.6 million to cover three-year period (1981-83).
Eastern, Western Conference dissolved and renamed East and West Divisions. Board of Governors replaced Executive Committee and Management Council replaced General Managers Committee. Complete interlocking schedule for first time.
CFL granted a new franchise to Montreal called the Concordes. The Grey Cup game attracted the largest television audience in the history of Canadian television as 7,862,000 viewers watched Edmonton extend their record to five consecutive Grey Cup victories.
CFL signed record television agreement with Carling O'Keefe Breweries for $33 million over a three-year period (1984-86). League attendance reached an all-time high of 2,856,031 for all games. The 71st Grey Cup Game was played before 59,345 fans in BC Place Stadium and was the first CFL championship game to be played indoors. The Game provided the League with its first $2 million gross gate. Television coverage on CBC, CTV and Radio-Canada of the Grey Cup game attracted the largest viewing audience in television history for a Canadian sports program as 8,118,000 people watched Toronto edge B.C. 18-17.
Douglas H. Mitchell, Q.C. of Calgary became the sixth Commissioner of the CFL on June 1. In the fall, a market research study was done with fans in the CFL cities. The League moved to make the 1985 Canadian College Draft “open” and eliminated Territorial Exemptions. Edmonton played host to its first Grey Cup Game.
The CFL moved to adopt overtime in the Regular Season which consisted of two five-minute halves (no-sudden death) and would be implemented in 1986. The CFL changed the overtime format for Playoff Games from two 10-minutes halves (with no sudden-death) to two five-minute halves (no sudden-death).
The CFL moved to an 18-game (per Club) Regular Season schedule. The Playoff structure was revised permitting a fourth place team from one division to qualify for post-season play providing it had more points in the Regular Season standings than the third place team in the other division. The CFL and the CFLPA agree to a new three-year agreement. The Alouettes were re-born as the Montreal Football Club changed its name from the Concordes to the Alouettes, on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Alouettes. The Sports Network carried live coverage of the first round of the 1986 Canadian College Draft from coast-to-coast. Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes played the first pre-season game in the Canada Games Stadium at Saint John, New Brunswick. Winnipeg won 36-10. The CFL amended the quota to 35-man game rosters (13 Imports, 19 Non-imports and three Quarterbacks). The Designated Import rule was eliminated. End zones were reduced from 25 to 20 yards. The Canadian Amateur Football Association changed its name to Football Canada in June.
The CFL celebrated the 75th Grey Cup Championship Season with the milestone Game at B.C. Place Stadium on November 29. The Canadian Football Network, a syndicate of Canadian television stations was formed. The CFL experimented with the TV blackout policy as four games (two in Hamilton and two in Toronto) are televised in the Hamilton-Toronto market. Game rosters were revised from 35 to 34 (19 Non-lmports, 13 Imports and two Quarterbacks) the reserve list was increased from three to four. The Montreal Alouettes folded on June 24; the schedule was revised and the Divisions realigned with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers moving to the Eastern Division. The Playoff format reverted to pre-1986.
The CFL's agreement with CFN was extended through to 1990. Game rosters were to consist of 20 non-imports, 14 imports and 2 quarterbacks, the reserve list consisted of up to two players. When a team dressed 14 imports, one had to be designated as a specialty teams player. Roy McMurtry was appointed Chairman-Chief Executive Officer and Bill Baker President-Chief Operating Officer on December 12, both appointments were effective January 1, 1989. The Board of Governors also approved the sale of the Toronto Argonauts from Carling O'Keefe to Harry Ornest.
The Board of Governors approved the sale of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats from Harold E. Ballard - Maple Leaf Gardens Limited to David Braley on February 24. Two months later, the CFL announced a two-year television agreement with Carling O'Keefe for $12 million plus an additional $3 million in Club promotional support. Hamilton hosted the CFL Annual Meetings-Canadian College Draft for the second consecutive year. The Argos began play at the SkyDome, which would play host to the 77th Grey Cup Championship on November 26. Saskatchewan defeated Hamilton 43-40. Murray Pezim purchased the B.C. Lions in September. The Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union moved its championship, the Vanier Cup, from Varsity Stadium to the SkyDome. The University of Western Ontario defeated the University of Saskatchewan 35-10 in the Silver Anniversary game. Bill Baker resigned as President-Chief Operating Officer effective December 31.