Bombers’ president Wade Miller vents about Canadian federal government

Winnipeg Blue Bombers president Wade Miller believes the Canadian federal government was running the clock out on the CFL.

The league had asked for a $30 million interest-free loan and Miller expected a direct answer well in advance of the third week in August.

“That’s fine if that’s the direction you’re going to take, you don’t wait four months to tell somebody that. I would argue the CFL is much different than any other league and is part of our rich history of our country, you see that in ratings of the Grey Cup,” Miller said on TSN 1290 radio in Winnipeg.

“When you work with the government for over four months, you think you’re going to get somewhere by the end, twice they asked us to come back in different ways and the federal government support never materialized.”

Winnipeg had tentatively been chosen as the hub city for the CFL if the league played its shortened season in 2020. Premier Brian Pallister committed $2.5 million as part of Manitoba’s proposal, but it was not to be after the feds denied the request for no strings attached money.

“When you have the province of Manitoba step up the way they did, the city of Winnipeg, provincial health authority has approved our plan, you saw the comments from the public health officials federally, everything was aligned to do that and there were just a couple missing pieces. We couldn’t get over the finish line as a league to be able to play this year,” Miller said.

“There wasn’t a lot of difference whether we played or not. There was some benefit for us hosting an event like that at IG Field. It doesn’t change it financially that much for us, so we’ve planned for that and are currently working through our COVID recovery plan.”

For weeks the feds have been going back and forth with the CFL regarding potential aid amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to federal government officials, they let the CFL know Friday evening that there will not be an avenue for the league to obtain a $30 million interest-free loan.

“No idea [why the CFL didn’t obtain government funds], and that’s a question that somebody should ask one day,” Miller said.

When it comes to the long-term financial stability of the league, the feds are open to doing a deep dive to understand what might be needed. The feds want to see the CFL continue to operate, but there won’t be a catered solution for a shortened schedule in 2020.

“I’m not sure if you don’t help in a pandemic, when you’re going to help. We’ll most likely figure this out on our own and come up with CFL made solutions is my guess,” Miller said.

“Nobody plans for a pandemic, so I would suggest nobodies in great shape. We’ve got time to get ready for 2021 that normally you wouldn’t get. We need to take this opportunity and re-evaluate our business and make it as strong as it can be going into spring and summer of 2021.”