The Canadian Football League has been modelling the concept of one big hub for potentially playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Randy Ambrosie explained why the single city approach could work for the CFL in 2020.
“It’s one of the things we’re really looking at. A hub city has some advantages because what you’re doing is bringing your entire ecosystem into a state of isolation and that’s one of the reasons why we’re investigating it,” Ambrosie told Reid Wilkins on 630 CHED in Edmonton.
“Can we potentially keep our players and all of our football operations, and everyone involved in the game, a little safer if we contain them all inside — in our case it would have to be a gigantic bubble — a bubble is one of the things that’s appealing about it. We’re examining all of those health issues.”
The National Hockey League is in the process of finalizing two hub cities for its return to play scenario. Meanwhile the National Basketball Association is planning to use the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida for its entire back on the court approach. Major League Soccer has chosen the one place model as well utilizing ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex for its tournament. Major League Baseball has yet to formalize a plan.
“You have to remember, the NHL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, and the MLS were all into their seasons when this happened. We never got started, so our challenge is a little bit different than there’s. They’ve had their teams all set, the problem we face is we now are looking at rosters of 90 guys. It’s not the well-defined rosters that you would see in the NBA and NHL,” Ambrosie said.
“It’s a lot of people. You’re not talking about your set roster, in the NHL they’re going to bring their team back. In our case, we bring roughly 90 players to training camp in order to end up with a football team. You’re really not isolating a small group, you’re isolating a very, very large one and that’s one of the challenges that we’re facing.”
If the CFL finished training camp and were into the regular season, the number of players would be cutdown. Active game day rosters are set at 45 players and teams can keep 10 on the practice roster plus any injured athletes. Perhaps the league could mandate a smaller number of players be brought to a bubble for training camp in order to cut costs.
“Had we started our season, now you’d be dealing with a relatively smaller universe of players, but because we haven’t even started the season, we’re dealing with this gigantic universe and that’s one of the complexities,” Ambrosie said.
“Especially when a good portion of that very large universe of players will have to cross a border in order to get to training camp. And then on the other side, there’s the business of the financial issues, but we are committed to seeing this through to figuring out if we can make it happen.”