Sask. has 'very large appetite' to host CFL hub city if 2020 season goes ahead
REGINA -- The CFL has yet to determine how or if it will play the 2020 season, but Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the province would happily host the league if it decided to use one or two hub cities for games.
“From the Premier’s perspective, [we have] a very large appetite to be a hub city and to host some CFL play here. But in saying that, it needs to be done in a safe manner,” Moe said.
The league has not yet announced what the season will look like if games are able to be played in 2020, or where those games would be played. Other professional sports leagues like the NHL and the NBA are using hub cities to concentrate teams in one or two locations.
While the spread of COVID-19 is the main concern for teams and players at the moment, the season could also be contingent on access to funding. In April, the league asked the federal government for up to $150 million in financial aid.
If the league gets the support it has asked for, Moe said the province will look into the possibility of being a hub city.
“We hope the federal government would look at the proposal that is in front of them, either for a hub city model, of which we would actively work with our Saskatchewan Roughriders and the CFL on seeing if there is that potential,” said Moe. “There may not be.”
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s Chief Medial Health Officer, said the league and the province would have many options to discuss when deciding whether or it would be feasible for Regina to be a hub city.
“It’s quite a significant undertaking by the league, as well as other staff who have to accommodate teams in a cohort, cocoon manner, so I think there is lots of complexities there,” Shahab said. “Everyone needs to feel comfortable and confident that its worthwhile doing that for the season.”
In May, Randy Ambrosie, the Commissioner of the CFL, said the league is considering a return to play later in 2020, with a shortened season. Regina and Winnipeg have reportedly come up as options for a western hub city, since discussions about an abbreviated season began.
If the 2020 season does not go ahead, Moe said the province would actively assess ways to help the league regain strength for 2021.