Ticats owner Bob Young: ‘I am a big fan of vaccine passports — it would simplify so much’

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young experienced the weirdest 600-plus days of his life without the CFL playing football.

Young is thankful for the healthcare providers helping Canadian citizens through the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing the three-down league to return this year. The Ticats caretaker was on The Bill Kelly Show on 900 CHML radio in Hamilton to detail the trials and tribulations of his franchise and the league.

Question: What did it take to put football back on the field in 2021 after the cancelled season?

Answer: “We have to continue to function as a league. We have to stay in the public eye. We have to retain our front office staff. We have to figure out how to compensate our players at least as well as we can. There was a lot of expense that went into the last season-and-a-half without any revenue. It was as bad a business situation as any of the businesses I’m involved in. We’re thrilled finally to be on the other side of that and back to selling a wonderful product to our enthusiastic fans.”

Q: How did all of the teams with various organizational structures able to make it through the worst times in the pandemic?

A: “We all have a passion for this game. We all have found the capital somewhere, either debt or additional equity — millions of dollars per team, tens of millions across the league to weather a year-and-a-half where it’s a pandemic. We’re now working really hard, if you have any brilliant ideas as to what the CFL need to do next I’m all ears. We got our work cut out to take the CFL from where you knew it to a level of success that justifies all the hard work and all the investment that my colleagues have put into this over the last couple of years.”

“We are in the 21st century. We have to figure out what the future of this league is in the same way that every other league has to both do well with their current customers and they have to position themselves for a world of the internet, and a digitally connected world, and a global world. That’s where we’re going, we want to take Canadian football and Canada with us around the world, but in the meantime getting us back into the Canadian sports market is very exciting.”

Q: Is there a discussion going on about

A: “The problem Ontario has is we have too many people. We’re by far and away the most populated province, which gives something like a pandemic, a virus, much more opportunity to misbehave. On the politics of it, I’m so damn sympathetic to the politicians on both sides of every issue because it’s a no-win for any of them at all times. I am a big fan, I have to admit, of vaccine passports — it would simplify so much.”

“In a pandemic, vaccine passports make sense. Once the pandemic is over, we can rip them up and go back to our usual path. What happened in Winnipeg where everyone who was vaccinated could come to the game and they had a full stadium, we should be doing that here in Ontario. But it’s a different situation in Ontario, we got a bigger province, they got bigger logistics to deal with. I’ll give you my vote and get the province to do the right thing here.”

Q: Could we see a capacity crowd at Tim Hortons Field for Labour Day?

A: “That’s certainly our goal. You can be sure we’re working with the province and the city to do everything we can to make sure we can hold a packed stadium and do it safely and responsibly. The whole of the healthcare community across the province we really appreciate their help ensuring that we can successfully have a rowdy Tim Hortons Field on September 6.

Q: What’s the current atmosphere among the league’s other owners?

A: “We have all our usual problems. The pandemic created stresses, but we have such great owners across this league that even when we disagree, we’re disagreeing with a mission of trying to improve our league dramatically over the next few years. And I don’t see any reason why we won’t be successful. This is where Randy Ambrosie and the team at the CFL office are essential to our success going forward.”

“The Ticats are just one of nine teams, if we don’t put on great football as a product, the CFL office has nothing to sell. But at the end of the day when we put on a great product, which we do every year, the CFL office has the responsibility to whether it’s with Facebook, Google or exactly how we take our brand around the world and monetize it more effectively then we’ve traditionally done, these are the kind of things that keep the board or governors up late at night working with Randy and the CFL office.”

“Smarter people than me have used the expression: never let a good crisis go to waste. The interesting thing about crises is they create opportunities. They get people to pay attention to you and get you to pay attention to your business in a bigger way than you traditionally do when things are going well and the tendency is just to do last year one more time. We don’t have that option, we have to do next year really well now.”

“We’re actually seeing some really, really interesting opportunities. We are talking to some very interesting groups about some very interesting opportunities. Who knows where they go? These are opportunities that weren’t available to us 18 months ago.”