Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe has ‘very large appetite’ for CFL hub in the prairies

Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe is hungry for a CFL hub in the prairies.

The noted Roughriders fan wants to investigate the possibility of the green and white playing host to the league’s idea of potentially putting on a shortened season in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the premier’s perspective, very large appetite to be a hub city and to host some CFL play here. We’ve seen this in some other leagues and it’s not without its struggles, and challenges, and setbacks,” Moe said.

“It needs to be done in a safe manner and it isn’t a cheap undertaking, it isn’t an easy undertaking, and it would take a fair amount of work, not only by our chief medical public health officer and his team, but also by quite likely Canada’s chief medical public health officer.”

As of June 30, Saskatchewan had 785 total coronavirus cases, the second least of any province which has CFL teams inside its borders and 685 have recovered — Manitoba is the lowest at 325. Moe has joined other Western provinces by ending daily COVID-19 updates on weekends and holidays. That’s because the daily counts have been low for a number of weeks and on many days under double digits, which could make Saskatchewan a safe option for the CFL.

“We know there is an ask in front of the federal government by the CFL for a couple of options, either a hub city option where we could have a modified season or no season at all. Listen, the CFL is a Canadian league, all Canadian teams, a certain degree of Canadian players is guaranteed to be on each of those teams,” Moe said.

“It is a league that we’ve been very proud of as being here from Saskatchewan, and most particularly proud of our Roughriders, but also proud of the strength of the league over the last century and would like to see it to continue.”

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated the earliest the CFL might return to play is September due to COVID-19. The league office sent the CFL Players’ Association a guiding principals statement which shares thoughts on what it could take for an abbreviated 2020 schedule. If the two sides form an agreement, choosing a hub might be the next step.

“So we’d hope the federal government would look at the proposal that is in front of them for a hub city model, of which we would actively work with our Saskatchewan Roughriders and the CFL on seeing if there is that potential, there may not be. For certain, actively look at how we can regain then with a strong league next year,” Moe said.

“It’s quite a significant undertaking by the league as well as other staff who have to accommodate teams in a cohort, cocoon manner,” Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medial health officer said. “There’s lots of complexities there and everyone needs to feel comfortable and confident that it’s worthwhile doing that for the season.”

There was one meeting between June 19 and July 1 where the league actually included the players by sharing how its hub concept might come together. If all of the appropriate details can be finalized, Moe has made it clear: Saskatchewan is open for CFL business.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.