Wade Miller: potential partnership with XFL ‘had nothing to do with the pandemic’

Screengrab courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ president and CEO Wade Miller has denied that the CFL entered talks with the XFL regarding a potential collaboration due to the financial constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was simply an opportunity that was important to explore and we did,” Miller told Ed Tait of BlueBombers.com. “We had great dialogue. They have great respect for the CFL and we do for the people that have taken over the XFL. It had nothing to do with the pandemic. It was an opportunity to explore what it would look like and was there any sort of alignment we could get to. We were sharing ideas and learning about each other.”

These comments coincide with what Miller told 3DownNation in March when the leagues first announced they had entered into exploratory discussions. According to Miller, areas in which the leagues would look to potentially collaborate included marketing, officiating, and business.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost just shy of $7-million in 2020, which was a far cry from the $3.5-million operating profit the team enjoyed in 2019.

Despite the fact that the CFL and XFL were unable to come to a formal partnership, Miller doesn’t regret taking the time to have discussions with the spring league’s new ownership group.

“In the end, it gave us a good opportunity to take a look at our business and what we’re doing. Every business model has its challenges. We do. We’d been working on addressing those prior to the XFL discussions, during the XFL discussions and we’ll continue do that as a league and as teams,” said Miller.

“Any time you spend reflecting on your business and working on your business is a good thing. That’s what we did through this process and I think the CFL is going to come out of this stronger.”

Miller is confident that CFL fans will return to support the league following a cancelled 2020 season.

“People are going to want to be a part of the CFL and we’re going to see that this year. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone and it was all taken away from all of us through COVID. I look forward for us to get back in front of our fans again,” said Miller.

The CFL will open training camps across the country on July 10 with the regular season kicking off on August 5 at IG Field in Winnipeg. The XFL has also announced its intention to return to the field in the spring of 2023, three years after the league folded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.