Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi would be open to the possibility of playing CFL games at McMahon Stadium if there were no fans in the stands.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated the earliest the league could be on the field is September due to the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, the CFL is assessing whether it could hold contests in empty stadiums.
“That is almost possible now. It would be possible for a team that is smaller than a football team because right now you can have 50 people gathering outdoors,” Nenshi said.
“If the CFL were to find a model to play without any fans in the stands, I think that is something we could certainly look at doing, this summer even.”
Ambrosie has revealed collectively CFL teams lose between $10 and $20 million dollars a season and that’s without the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The league office, board of governors and presidents are modelling to see if it’s financially feasible to put on games without being able to sell tickets.
“The challenge, as we’ve heard from the commissioner, is that the CFL relies on gate revenue much more than other leagues do,” Nenshi said.
“You are probably more likely to see other leagues continue to play without fans in the stands, but listen, we’re open to having those conversations. As you know, I’m a big football fan, a big CFL fan, so that would make me very excited if we could salvage the season in that way.”
Based on advice and guidance the CFL has been looking at their facilities and figuring out strategies for how fans might be brought in safely, how many could be in the stadiums, and how they could be accommodated. If there is not an effective treatment for people who get COVID-19 or an effective vaccine, it would be hard for Nenshi to imagine people in close proximity at McMahon Stadium.
“Could we open McMahon Stadium on a partial basis, and have a lot of physical distancing between people? Look anything is possible, but today it’s too early to tell,” Nenshi said.
“So much of this depends on medical treatments and vaccines. Will there be a vaccine by September? Doubtful. Although I was on a call today with of all people Dr. Anthony Fauci who seemed a little more optimistic on the timeline for a vaccine.”