Commissioner Ambrosie not counting on specific funding from federal government

Commissioner Ambrosie not counting on specific funding from federal government

TORONTO — Commissioner Randy Ambrosie continues to work with the federal government, but isn’t banking on CFL-specific funding to help the league through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CFL approached Ottawa last month for financial assistance. The league’s three-part proposal called for $30 million immediately, additional monies for an abbreviated season and up to $120 million more in the event of a cancelled season.

“For the moment we continue to be in discussions with the federal government,” Ambrosie said Tuesday. ”They’ve pointed us to some of the programs they’ve created that are in the general marketplace and we’re looking at those today and that process will continue.

“Right now, that’s where we are. We’re looking more at what’s already in the marketplace by way of solutions as opposed to one that’s stand-alone.”

Like all professional sports, the CFL has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Ambrosie told season-ticket holders the league’s best-case scenario is starting an abbreviated season in September, but reiterated a cancelled campaign also remains a definite possibility.

The CFL is also examining the potential of playing games without fans in the stands. It’s certainly a financially challenging prospect given franchises all rely heavily upon gate receipts for their bottom lines.

During the pandemic, Ambrosie said CFL clubs have all incurred expenses — paying off-season player bonuses, coaches, football operations and administration staff and general office overhead — without the benefit of incoming revenues. That’s prompted suggestions whether an abbreviated 2020 season would be viable without spectators in the stands.

“I’d say under even of the best of scenarios, it’s going to be financially challenging,” Ambrosie said. ”How we set ourselves up for 2021 and beyond might be a motivator to be more inclined to suffering some pain in 2020.

“But if all you’re doing is suffering pain in 2020 and then acknowledging you’ve got more pain to come, that’s not a very compelling business argument. That (expenses) is the nature of this beast but you don’t have to look far to see challenging circumstances … this is causing tremendous pressure everywhere.”

Ambrosie said the league plans this week to discuss when all teams can reopen their facilities.

The league ordered its teams in March to close facilities to players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, the Ontario government gave CFL clubs in the province the go-ahead to reopen their facilities.

That would allow players, coaches and management with the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Redblacks back into their respective buildings so long as strict health-and-safety guidelines remain in place.

NFL team facilities were permitted to begin reopening last week, again with the caveat they meet certain safety criteria.

“We’re going to be discussing that this week,” Ambrosie said. ”We want to be very cautious and part of the process is you have to be certain you can do it right … you have to not only have a good plan but be able to execute against that plan.

“That’s one of the things we’re talking about.”

Ambrosie also divulged last week a change to the CFL’s 2020 Grey Cup plans. Regina was scheduled to host this year’s game, but instead has been awarded the 2022 contest with Hamilton remaining on board to host in 2021.

In the event of an abbreviated season where CFL teams play in their home stadiums, the Grey Cup finalist with the best regular-season record would host the CFL championship game.

But there are questions surrounding whether that model would work if the CFL adopted the hub-city approach. That’s where teams would gather in one or two host cities.

Greg Dick, the CFL’s chief financial officer, last week told league podcast The Waggle that in a hub-city setup, the win-and-host Grey Cup model might not apply. On Tuesday, Ambrosie reiterated the league continues to examine hub cities but was much less definitive on a potential Grey Cup format under that scenario.

“Just too early to reach any conclusions,” Ambrosie said. “We don’t know right now what’s going to happen.

“We have some signals for sure, certain cities have been more advanced in their prognostications about what they will allow … right now there’s a lot more speculation in the market than absolute bedrock facts.”

Dick also suggested that with the CFL hoping to start its season in September, a logical drop-dead date for the league would come in August. But again, Ambrosie was much less emphatic.

“My framing on this has remained consistent,” he said. “I think it’s when we have all the information we need.

“So it’s not so much a calendar issue as it is an information issue … the discussions are ongoing.”

Regina, Winnipeg and Edmonton have been mentioned as viable CFL hub cities. Ambrosie reiterated discussions continue, but added southern Ontario has merit as a potential site.

“You have two facilities within driving distance, BMO Field and Tim Hortons Field,” he said. “You have training facilities in London (Western University), Guelph, Waterloo, Laurier, McMaster, U of T and York.

“You start to look at that and think, ‘Well, that’s interesting,’ by way of facilities that could be used. But again, we’re just looking at everything and not reaching any decisions.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read