Riders' president says CFL season is 'vitally important' for the franchise
REGINA -- Saskatchewan Roughriders' president and CEO Craig Reynolds says the CFL’s announcement to start the season on Aug. 5 with a shortened 14 game schedule is a positive step for the league.
“I think what we want to do today was announce a firm commitment to playing but be realistic with what those conditions to play in are,” Reynolds said on Wednesday.
Two conditions need to be met for the Riders, and the other eight teams in the CFL, to get back on the gridiron.
Teams need to get approval from public health officials. Reynolds said that Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, has given them the green light.
“They’ve approved the return to play plan, which is the football plan,” Reynolds said. ‘They have not approved the Mosaic Stadium re-opening plan, but we continue to have good dialogue with them.”
The second condition is to make the 2021 season financially tenable for teams. CFL teams derive over half of their profits from ticket sales. Being a gate-driven league, the CFL said teams need permission from governments to host a significant number of fans in a significant number of venues.
Reynolds said the club has not yet set a threshold for the number of fans they will need to have in seats to bring in a profit.
Reynolds expects the organization to announce multi-million dollar losses at the annual meeting in June. He also said the cancelled season in 2020 has caused a multi-year financial problem for the Riders that playing this season won’t solve the team’s financial troubles.
“With reduced capacities it could create additional issues,” Reynolds said. “But for the sustainability of the franchise, for the brand for continued fan engagement, it’s vitally important.”
Premier Scott Moe says CFL fans won’t be required to have a vaccine to watch games in person. However, getting the vaccine should serve as a major incentive if Saskatchewan wants to watch CFL action in 2021.
“If we ever want to fill Mosaic Stadium again we are going to need the majority of Saskatchewan people vaccinated,” Moe said.