Ticats won’t say if they’re in the running for the 2020 Grey Cup

The CFL says it has three cities interested in hosting the 2020 Grey Cup but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won’t confirm if they’re one of them.

On Tuesday, team CEO Scott Mitchell reiterated the club’s interest in the event, which hasn’t come to the city since 1996, but refused to say whether they would be involved in the chase for 2020.

“We’re not looking at rushing into one, we’re looking at putting one on at the right time that’s going to be massively successful for the community,” Mitchell said. “I’m not going to tell you when it is.”

Meanwhile, the league is moving forward with its revamped selection process. During an interview in late August, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the league had moved to a bidding process for teams and cities interested in hosting the game and associated events, which can generate up to $100 million in economic activity for the community and a significant cash infusion for the club.

“We have put the bidding process out for the 2020 game and it’s different this time. We have three teams that have expressed an interest in bidding. We’ve actually put a Grey Cup consultant into the mix that’s working on behalf of the league,” Ambrosie told TSN 1150. “The whole idea is that you have to make it bigger, you have to make it better than the last one. And from this point going forward the challenge for every Grey Cup is that you have to make it better than last year’s, you have to build on it.”

The CFL declined to make Ambrosie available on Tuesday but confirmed there were still three teams interested in 2020.

One of those teams is the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who last hosted the game in 2013 and announced their bid on Monday. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, another possible host, have said they are out of the running. The other options would appear limited: Edmonton (2018) and Calgary (2019) are already lined up and Ottawa hosted last year; the 2016 event in Toronto was a disappointment, while Montreal has stadium issues.

So where does that leave Hamilton? Mitchell said while the lawsuit over the stadium has now been resolved – repeatedly touted as a major hurdle to hosting a Grey Cup – there are other things to be ironed out.

Co-operation with both the municipal and provincial governments is important for the bid’s success, Mitchell said, and there’s recently been in a change at Queen’s Park. Meanwhile, local elections are set for Oct. 22.

“We’re not waiting to see what happens but there’s not much that can happen at City Hall and big projects like this while you’re in the middle of an election,” Mitchell said. “Everyone’s got their own priorities right now and once the election finishes up, we’ll have some more dynamic conversations.”

Mitchell, Ticats’ owner Bob Young and much of the organization are also heavily involved in the new Canadian Premier League, a soccer venture that’s set to launch in 2019. Whether they can take on an all-consuming run at Grey Cup at the same time remains an open question.

“We’ve always thought the most important thing is to have a bid that’s successful and, much more importantly, to have a successful Grey Cup so that we can be in the mix for Grey Cups on an ongoing basis,” Mitchell said. “[We’re working with] our owner, with the league, with all our executive team here and we’re having very preliminary discussions with the city.”

The timelines are getting short, according to Ambrosie, who says he’d like to make the announcement about the 2020 Grey Cup during this year’s festivities in Edmonton in late November. Mitchell, however, won’t commit to being a part of this year’s process.

“We’re looking at a Grey Cup as soon as is feasible for the community,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when.”

– with files from Teri Pecoskie, TSN 1150.

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