Hamilton Tiger-Cats chief operating officer Scott Mitchell has provided a glimpse into the financial hit taken by the privately owned teams in the CFL due to COVID-19.
After the federal government denied a $30 million interest-free loan a year ago, the board of governors voted to cancel the 2020 season. The CFL reportedly lost between $60 and $80 million last year and are set to lose millions more in 2021.
“In Hamilton’s case, this pandemic will cost the Tiger-Cats $15 million dollars at least, by the time we get through into the 2022 season. That is a significant amount of money for community owned teams,” Mitchell said on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto.
“I certainly understand why they say we need some fans in the stands, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable amount of fans, but they do need the revenue from fans coming in the stands there.”
Most importantly, a ‘significant’ number of fans must be allowed in stadiums Week 1 in order to proceed with kick-off. The three-down league has targeted August 5 as a start date for a potential 14-game regular season with the Grey Cup being moved to December 12 in Hamilton. Although, Mitchell can see a scenario where the CFL starts playing without fans in the stands.
“In Hamilton, we certainly would be open to that. The challenge is in this league, we have three community teams, they’re excellent, they’re well-run teams, they’re certainly excellent organizations, but they don’t have a Bob Young or they don’t have a John Ruddy or Roger Greenberg in Ottawa,” Mitchell said.
“In their dealings with the health authorities, they do feel very strongly in those provinces that playing football in outdoor facilities after full vaccinations — in the Western provinces their predicting vaccinations sooner than we’ll be finished in Ontario — in August is very doable.”
Over 30 percent of Canadians have already received their first vaccine dose, with the government currently expected to meet the 75 percent threshold on schedule for the summer. However, should total vaccinations come in under 55 percent, hospitalizations could spike again by the fall.
“I do think the government in Ontario, as difficult as it is right now, shutting down the province is the responsible thing to do, clearly it’s not popular for any one,” Mitchell said.
“It’s certainly not something any of us want to go through, but when you look at that and even some of the worst case scenarios on the vaccine rollout, it should put us in a pretty good position.”