Longtime Saskatchewan radio host Jamie Nye can picture an excited commissioner of the CFL, Randy Ambrosie.
That mood swing comes after the news of the Oilers Entertainment Group submitting a proposal for a limited number of fans to attend games at Rogers Place.
“If you’re looking at OEG, the Oilers Entertainment Group, getting a percentage of fans in an indoor facility in April, you think Randy Ambrosie was excited about the vaccination announcement Grey Cup week,” Nye said on The Green Zone. “He might be doing cartwheels down the offices of the CFL in Toronto with the news that there’s a potential that the Oilers might get fans in the stands in April.”
TSN’s Tom Gazzola first reported the news and it was followed by an official statement from the Oilers obtained by CTV News in Edmonton. Tim Shipton, Oilers’ vice president of communications provided the official comment.
“We have submitted a comprehensive first draft for review and discussion. We believe we can host fans in Rogers Place and do it as safely as any venue in the world, based on our track record and expertise. We’ve also gained knowledge and best practices through conversations with many other venues that have opened to fans across the NHL and pro sports.”
If it’s successful and gains approval from Alberta Health Services, it would be a first for people attending sporting events in Canada since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oilers captain and star Connor McDavid is in favour of the idea.
“It’d be a huge lift. Just in talking to some of the guys around the league, that have gotten their fans back, even in a limited capacity, they talk about what a big lift it is,” McDavid said in a videoconference.
“We certainly miss our fans and that kind of energy that they provide for us. If everyone deems it safe and there’s a way to work it out, I think that’d be great. I certainly miss playing in front of the fans.”
The precedent for fans could be set by the Oilers which would theoretically lead to the CFL following the health and safety protocols at its stadiums while putting bums in seats. The prevailing thought around the league is the CFL’s main source of revenue needs to return in order for players to take the field and football to be played in 2021.
“If they have fans in the stands in April, outdoor stadiums in Calgary and Edmonton in June,” Nye said. “Yeah thanks, we’ll have some fans to please.”