Saskatchewan government: ‘premature to speculate’ on number of fans in stands for 2021 Riders season

Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe and his government have laid out the roadmap for re-opening the province as COVID-19 case counts decline, but it doesn’t include details for Mosaic Stadium welcoming fans.

Moe’s three-step plan is based on 70 percent of first dose vaccination rates in people age 40 and above for the first, people age 30 and above for the second, and people age 18 and above for the third.

The re-opening roadmap depends on the majority of the province being able to reach the vaccination goals in order to move through the steps. If there are a small number of zones that do not reach the vaccination threshold, the government may look at maintaining the current step level until the vaccine targets are reached.

On May 30, 2021, competition and game play for outdoor team sports was allowed to proceed in the prairie province with health and safety requirements. However, there is no timeline yet for when Saskatchewan’s beloved CFL football team might be able to take the field.

“We are working on it. The Ministry of Health and the Business Response Team continue to work with the Roughriders on a plan for a 2021 CFL season,” Saskatchewan’s government stated.

“The number of fans in the stands will depend on a number of factors, and it would be premature to speculate on what that might look like in August.”

The Riders were last on the field in November 2019 when the green and white lost the West Final to Winnipeg in front of a sold-out crowd of over 33,000. The rival Blue Bombers went on to win the Grey Cup and have been reigning CFL champions ever since.

The league delayed its start date with a 14-game schedule targeted to kick-off on August 5, culminating in a currently planned December 12 Grey Cup. For the timeline to be met, the league requires ‘a significant number of fans’ to be allowed in stadiums by municipal, provincial, and federal governments.

After the CFL pushed its season back, the same day, April 21, Roughriders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day sent a memo to his players which included in part: “Saskatchewan has already approved our return to play plan, so we are headed in the right direction.”

O’Day added: “We have a firm commitment to play in 2021 as long as we get public health approval for our return to play plans and we are allowed a level of fans in the stands. Our new report date will be July 2, followed by a seven-day quarantine period and then the start of training camp on July 10.

If vaccination rates are meeting targets and the virus levels are decreasing more restrictions will ease in Saskatchewan, which could lead to the required amount of spectators for a CFL season.

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