Former team CEO Lyle Bauer: games ‘can be done safely and effectively with the CFL leading the pack’

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders chief operating officer Lyle Bauer has ideas for how the CFL can play games in 2020 amid the coronavirus crisis.

“There are ways to get this done and there are some smart people in the CFL who are well connected. It can be done safely and effectively with the CFL leading the pack,” Bauer told Postmedia reporter Ted Wyman.

“Remember, people are much closer in a grocery store, Walmart, or on transit, then they would be under this plan. You probably would be safer.”

Bauer served as team president for the Bombers and Stamps for 13 seasons combined, 10 in the Manitoba capital. When commissioner Randy Ambrosie presented to the standing committee on finance, he said: Our best case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season. And our most likely scenario is no season at all. Despite Ambrosie’s statement, Bauer sees ways to play three-down football.

“I think for a variety of reasons the CFL should do exactly what I am suggesting. Keeps the CFL alive, all fans engaged, protects and preserves sponsorship and broadcast rights and it will be one of the only games around,” Bauer said.

“CFL fans would embrace the idea and co-operate and more importantly support the initiative. Missing an entire season could be tragic. Unfortunately, out of sight, out of mind is well proven.”

Ambrosie said the day is fast approaching when he will have to cancel games and perhaps the season. And then the league’s fans and partners will have every right to demand their money back, at that moment its financial crisis will become very real and very big.

“Teams with large stadiums like B.C., and Edmonton could reassign seats to provide social distancing compliance. Other clubs like Winnipeg, Calgary, Saskatchewan may have to assign seats and come up with an appropriate social distance plan,” Bauer said.

“Toronto would have no problem doing the same as B.C. and Edmonton given their capacity and attendance history. With this type of plan you would still have lower gate receipts etc., however the losses would be considerably less than cancelling a season.”

The 61-year-old Bauer played 10 seasons in the CFL as an offensive lineman for the Bombers. He won three Grey Cups with Winnipeg (1984, 1988 and 1990) while being named the team’s Most Outstanding Lineman in 1988 and in 1998 Bauer was inducted into the Blue Bomber Hall of Fame.

“I also think the CFL owes it to the players to do everything possible to have a semblance of a season. This is their livelihood and how they look after their families,” Bauer said.

“Many of the CFL teams could accommodate their attendance with proper distancing and protocols.”