CFL on TSN play-by-play man Dustin Nielson holds out hope for fans in stands in 2021

Photo courtesy: TSN

TSN radio host and Canadian football play-by-play man Dustin Nielson has watched major pro sports leagues find a way to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, except the CFL.

The Edmonton-based Nielson admitted it was frustrating the three-down league cancelled the 2020 season.

“That comes back around to proper planning and the Canadian Football League just didn’t have that in place. It’s tough to keep that conversation going when you see every single other league, essentially, finding a way to get things done and the Canadian Football League was unable to do it,” Nielson said on The Rod Pedersen Show.

“With that being said, what would be even worse is if you can’t have something in place come May. If the Canadian Football League can’t get it done in the second year, that’s embarrassing for all of us. You just can’t have that happen, you need to be prepared, you need to have plan A, B, C, D, E, F and G.”

The league lost its number one source of revenue – fans in the stands – when the coronavirus prevented large gatherings. Unlike United States-based leagues that can count on television or streaming to provide a large share of their revenue, the CFL depends heavily on its live gate.

“I have a hard time believing they can’t get a 2021 season in. I’m a positive guy, I’m an optimistic guy and I have a feeling that by the time this season is supposed to begin, we’ll at least be able to have 4,000 or 5,000 fans at outdoor stadiums in this country — fingers crossed,” Nielsen said.

“My opinion right now is based on what they can do with 4,000 to 5,000 possibly in attendance, depending on the different stadiums and restrictions across the country. I’m trying to stay positive, but I’ll be honest it’s a difficult thing to do.”

TSN reporter Dave Naylor recently shared a glimpse of the anxiety being felt behind the scenes by league employees.

“When I talk to teams and people right now, their belief is if we don’t play in 2021, the league is going to get mothballed until COVID is over,” said Naylor.

Nielson doesn’t believe anything good can come from the mothball term.

“Any sort of discussion for this league is a positive discussion. If something leaks out in Toronto, then you know what, we’re going to talk about it. People across this country who love the Canadian Football League are going to talk about it,” Nielson said.

“If you completely lock everything down and there is nothing to talk about, whether it’s good or bad, I just feel like you’re hammering in another death blow for the buzz that a lot of us are trying to keep going for the Canadian Football League.”

Nielson wants the CFL to be run “a little bit smoother” moving forward, football fans across would largely agree.