Commish Randy Ambrosie, CFL looking into hub city ‘ecosystem’

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie spoke to the hub city model more than he ever has so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambrosie has provided sparse details on the concept to date, but based on what was shared by the commish it seems the league is looking further into the particulars.

“What kind of restrictions would be in place if we went into some kind of a hub or bubble, what kind of restrictions would we have to put in place in order to keep everyone safe. Remembering that in a hub or bubble you’re still going to have interaction with a lot of people,” Ambrosie said on TSN 1050 radio in Toronto.

“You’re going to have to transport those players and that’s going to mean that you’re going to be having to invite into your ecosystem people from outside the football community. Not everybody inside the football community are 23 to 29 year old, super healthy, fit adults. Guys like me hang out around the football community as well.”

Hub cities continue to be hot topics among the NBA, NHL and MLB as North American pro sports leagues try to figure out the best way to possibly hold games during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. If the CFL proceeds with the hub city concept, part of its design is to limit the amount of kilometres teams would need to travel around the country.

“We would love to play. We would love to get our guys back on the field. There’s still some complexities that we haven’t been able to figure out, but we’ve got a lot of good people working on them and trying to set a path that we get some play in 2020,” Ambrosie said.

“We’d like to play. We’re very engaged in a process to try to figure it out and take our guidance from health care experts and let them help us see whether we can get back on the field in some form or fashion.”

For any sports including the CFL to play in a hub city model, strict guidelines would have to be followed. According to Sportsnet reporter Arash MadaniWhat got the CFL committee’s interest spiked was Dr. Lawrence Steinman’s suggestion of a particular antibody test that is FDA-registered and takes only 15 minutes to provide a result. Stringent testing would help create a safe inner bubble, especially for the players.

“We want to see them play safely as well. We’re going to try everything we can to make it happen. It sounds like a broken record, but there’s just some unanswered questions that we haven’t been able to resolve yet and those are under review,” Ambrosie said.

“The players have been very clear all the way along that they would like to play, I’d like to see them play as well. These young men spend a lifetime preparing for this. When you’re thinking about playing, you’ve gotta take into account everyone who is part of the football community, not just the players.”

Ambrosie has laid out the game plan in terms of a timeline for a possible 2020 CFL season, stating: the earliest the CFL might return to play – for a shortened but meaningful season – is this September. Of course, a final decision on whether that will indeed happen will depend on what governments tell us is safe for our players and fans. 

“We do think that our fans would be very accepting of an unconventional type of approach to this season,” Ambrosie said.

“The pandemic has sent everything into a spin, so we are very comfortable that we can have a lot of flexibility how we might play a season, if we can figure out some of the health and safety issues, and, of course, some of the financial issues as well.”

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