Former Saskatchewan Roughriders chief operating officer and president Jim Hopson wasn’t shocked by the CFL’s $150 million ask in financial aid from the Canadian government.
“It seems like an awful lot of money but when you think about what has happened here in the last few weeks and the programs that have been put in place for other businesses and individuals and so on, it’s not out of line,” Hopson said on 980 CJME The Green Zone.
Ambrosie put forth his first plea to the feds for up to $150 million which the three-down league could need to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The total includes $30 million in working capital to keep operating and as much as an additional $120 million over the next two years — if the most negative scenarios, all of them, come true.
“I think (the CFL) is a business worth saving. It’s not just the Riders and the CFL and teams but all those spinoff jobs that others count on at Mosaic Stadium and the concessions and it just goes on and on and on,” Hopson said.
“It’s also the tie that binds. It’s what makes Canada unique in so many ways; it’s the CFL. It would be a huge loss to our country and to so many fans that have followed this league for over 100 years.”
The regular season was scheduled to kick-off on Thursday, June 11, but Ambrosie has stated the schedule won’t start before the beginning of July at the earliest and likely later. If there is no season in 2020, it’s estimated the CFL could lose approximately $100 million.
“We’re a gate-driven league. The TV money is nice but it’s not the biggest amount; it’s still the gate. Concessions are nice and the marketing and the sponsorship and clothing and that kind of thing, but it’s bums in seats and it looks more and more like we’re not going to be able to do that,” Hopson said.
Hopson led the Riders franchise as CEO from 2005 to 2014. The green and white won the Grey Cup two times during his tenure, 2007 and on home soil in 2013. The CFL’s most followed team had record profits while Hopson was in office and he was enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2019.
“When you talk about the fans — and I include more than just those 30,000 people who show up to Mosaic Stadium 10 times a year — you think about the tens of thousands of people that watch the game on TV,” Hopson said.
“The Riders are a part of their life.”