CFL light on plans for 2020 amid COVID-19

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - SPORT - TERRY JONES

It was billed as a Cana­dian Foot­ball League sea­son ticket hold­ers' vir­tual town hall, where com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie would pro­vide an up­date on the league's plans for 2020.

The only real plan re­vealed was the one pre­dicted and pro­jected in this col­umn a cou­ple of days ago — that there would be no 2020 Grey Cup in Regina, that the 2021 Grey Cup would go ahead as planned in Hamil­ton and the Regina Grey Cup game would be resched­uled for 2022.

To even call it a ‘town hall' would be ridicu­lous. Am­brosie was fed a se­ries of ques­tions sub­mit­ted by sea­son ticket hold­ers around the league.

De­spite the fact Am­brossie was de­liv­er­ing neg­a­tive news, the CFL com­mis­sioner was ef­fec­tively at­tempt­ing to cre­ate a pep rally.

Am­brosie ba­si­cally put him­self in po­si­tion of hav­ing to be a song-and-dance man. And he didn't dance that well.

You'd call it a ‘low' con­tent event. Ex­cept that other than the Grey Cup news — that Regina had been left in a po­si­tion of plan­ning a fes­ti­val that next to no­body, due to rea­sons in­volv­ing the Covid19­pan­demic, the econ­omy and travel op­tions, would con­sider at­tend­ing and had opted out — there was NO con­tent.

“I think we are all quite dis­ap­pointed. I think CFL fans wanted to go to Regina this year. But ob­vi­ously with all of the things hap­pen­ing around the pan­demic, hav­ing a tra­di­tional Grey Cup just isn't pos­si­ble,” he said.

“The Grey Cup is more than a foot­ball game. It's so much more than that. It's the fes­ti­val and the at­mos­phere is part of what has made the CFL such a leg­endary event.

“From what we know to­day it is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to hold an event the way Cana­di­ans have be­come ac­cus­tomed to, so work­ing with the Rid­ers, it was very clear we weren't go­ing to have a tra­di­tional Grey Cup this year. Along with the Rid­ers, we made the de­ci­sion that we would shift the Grey Cup away from Regina this fall. We awarded Grey Cup 2022 to the Rid­ers and the prov­ince of Saskatchew­an.”

Ex­cuse me, but … cough … sput­ter, I told you so.

In the event the league is to able to play an eight-game sched­ule, Am­brosie sug­gested the CFL fi­nal might end up be­ing played some­time in De­cem­ber.

Any­body up for play­ing in or at­tend­ing that game a cou­ple of weeks be­fore Christ­mas in, oh, say, Win­nipeg or, ah, Ed­mon­ton?

“If we are able to play, we're go­ing to go to a winand-host strat­egy,” Am­brosie ex­plained. “Of the two teams that would be play­ing in the Grey Cup, the team that has the best reg­u­lar-sea­son record would be the host of the Grey Cup this year.”

Even in terms of that, er, plan there was no men­tion of if the idea would be to have Eastern Di­vi­sion teams play ex­clu­sively against each other and West­ern Di­vi­sion teams do the same, or for ev­ery team to play each other once.

As for the over­all sug­ges­tion that “plans for the 2020 sea­son would be up­dated,” the up­date was there was fi­nally an ad­mis­sion that the league couldn't play un­til Septem­ber, ear­li­est, and that was about it.

Not that there was con­fir­ma­tion that the league was ac­tu­ally putting plans in place to start in Septem­ber.

“What we wanted our fans to know what that this was a pos­si­ble sce­nario that we are pur­su­ing,” Am­brosie said. “It's an op­por­tu­nity to get back to foot­ball in early fall, right around Labour Day. It is one of the sce­nar­ios that we are pur­su­ing. We know that in sev­eral of our CFL cities, we would not be able to play un­til the end of Au­gust, for sure, based on pub­lic health re­quire­ments. So we're look­ing at Septem­ber and on­ward for get­ting back to this game that we all love so much.”

No plan.

Play­ing games in empty sta­di­ums in a gate-driven league?

“Of the many dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios that we have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing, all of those are on the ta­ble.”

No plan.

The sta­tus of the CFL'S re­quest for fed­eral fund­ing?

“We've had on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions with the fed­eral govern­ment ...,” he said. “Our strat­egy was al­ways to look at a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways to get through this cri­sis. One was to talk to the fed­eral govern­ment. We've been talk­ing to the pro­vin­cial govern­ments be­cause we have so many great friends in the pro­vin­cial govern­ments. And there are things we're work­ing on our own. We're look­ing at all pos­si­ble ways to sur­vive this cri­sis and that we come back big­ger, stronger and bet­ter in 2021 and be­yond.” Nuthin'.

But ‘Gimme a ‘C'. Gimme an ‘F'. Gimme an ‘L'

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