Regina Thunder facing financial uncertainty amid coronavirus pandemic

Click to play video: 'Regina Thunder struck by financial uncertainty'
Regina Thunder struck by financial uncertainty
WATCH: While many eyes in Saskatchewan are on the Riders and the potential for a shortened or cancelled CFL season, the trickle-down effect of such an outcome would have a large impact on the Regina Thunder – May 11, 2020

Whether or not there is a football season this year, the Regina Thunder of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) are uncertain the team would have the financial means needed to lace up.

With the fate of the CJFL season, set to begin in August, up in the air due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Thunder need to finance a budget of about $300,000.

The team raises that money through sponsorships and fundraisers, with nearly a quarter of it coming from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

READ MORE: Canadian Football League asks government for $150M in assistance amid COVID-19

Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie recently stated that the CFL season is “most likely” to be cancelled.

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“We’re a non-profit organization and we rely on corporate sponsors within the community, and when they are affected and maybe their revenues are down, their ability to help out the non-profits change as well,” said Scott MacAulay, Regina Thunder head coach.

“The Saskatchewan Roughriders and the 50-50s done by the University of Regina Rams, we’ve always been able to benefit from their efforts every year, and it’s a substantial amount of money.

“If there is no CFL or a minimized season, I’m sure the funding we get from the Saskatchewan Roughriders that keeps us afloat will be minimal or none.”

READ MORE: First-year Regina Rams head coach presented with unique challenge amid COVID-19

The Thunder are still hoping for help from other sponsors but realize that if companies negatively impacted by the pandemic have funds left to donate, they may go to more essential organizations.

“(Women’s shelters) need help, the Regina food banks need help, the YMCA, the YWCA. There’s a lot of different non-profits out there and even in our world. There’s hockey, football, baseball,” MacAulay said.

The team also relies on fundraisers like its annual sports dinner, which has been postponed, along with an NFL pool.

READ MORE: CFL Players’ Association prepares players for life after football

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Money raised also goes towards a scholarship fund for Thunder players, which totalled about $45,000 last year.

“Out of a team of 80-some players, we had 45 guys receive scholarships, and that is for the University of Regina, Saskatchewan Polytechnic … it’s something a lot of them need,” MacAulay said.

While coaches and players continue to prepare online for the season, MacAulay says he views it as a chance to grow as a team and as people.

Last season, the Thunder went 6-3 and finished third in the Prairie Conference.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Roughriders’ receiver Shaq Evans is practising patience during COVID-19'
Saskatchewan Roughriders’ receiver Shaq Evans is practising patience during COVID-19

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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