CFL eyes gov­ern­ment loan to cover hub costs, salaries

Times Colonist - - Sports - DAN RALPH

TORONTO — If suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing a $30-mil­lion, in­ter­est­free loan from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, the CFL would use the money to cover such op­er­at­ing costs as player salaries, COVID-19 test­ing and hub-city ex­penses dur­ing a short­ened 2020 season.

A source with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion told the Cana­dian Press on Tues­day the league has pro­vided Ot­tawa with some de­tails re­gard­ing its loan re­quest, say­ing where the CFL ex­pects to use the money.

Nei­ther the league nor fed­eral gov­ern­ment have di­vulged de­tails of the loan re­quest.

The league is mak­ing a last­ditch ef­fort to secure fi­nan­cial sup­port from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to stage an ab­bre­vi­ated ’20 season. But the as­sis­tance won’t as­sure the CFL of pros­per­ity.

The source says the league has said it ex­pects to lose more than $50 mil­lion this year.

The CFL says it needs gov­ern­ment money for a short­ened season as com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie has stated the nineteam cir­cuit col­lec­tively lost up­wards of $20 mil­lion in 2019. And with no foot­ball yet this year, fran­chises have had lit­tle op­por­tu­nity to gen­er­ate rev­enue.

The CFL is a gate-driven league, with ticket sales be­ing the pri­mary source of rev­enue for all of its teams.

The $30-mil­lion ap­peal is a re­duc­tion from the $44-mil­lion amended req­ui­si­tion the league pre­sented Ot­tawa last month. In April, the CFL ap­proached the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for up to $150 mil­lion in as­sis­tance due to the novel coro­n­avirus out­break.

Am­brosie has stated the ear­li­est an ab­bre­vi­ated season could be­gin is early next month. But he’s also said a can­celled cam­paign re­mains a pos­si­bil­ity.

This lat­est re­quest comes after the CFL had ex­hausted spec­i­fied loan dis­cus­sions with the Business De­vel­op­ment Bank of Canada and Ex­port De­vel­op­ment Canada, both crown cor­po­ra­tions.

But the fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­quires more than just cost cer­tainty. On Mon­day, two sources said it would also need a spec­i­fied re­pay­ment plan as well as de­tails on health-and-safety pro­to­cols the CFL would im­ple­ment to en­sure well­ness dur­ing a short­ened season.

If there’s a 2020 season, it will be held in Win­nipeg, which is the CFL’s ten­ta­tive hub city. The Man­i­toba gov­ern­ment pro­vided $2.5 mil­lion with its bid.

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