Saskatchewan economy faces more uncertainty with possible Grey Cup cancellation

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WATCH: It's unlikely this year's CFL season will go ahead, which would mean no Grey Cup for Regina to host in the fall. – May 11, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Saskatchewan’s economy could face another major hit due to the uncertainty around the 2020 Grey Cup.

Hosted in Regina in 2013, the Grey Cup brought in $93 million to the province. This year, Tourism Regina projected the event to bring in around $95 million of economic activity.

But last week, the CFL announced that it’s very unlikely the football season will go ahead this year. If that’s the case, it also means no Grey Cup.

While it’s not set in stone, John Hopkins, Regina and District Chamber of Commerce CEO, says cancelling the event would mean restaurants and hotels would feel the brunt of the loss.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Cancellation of CFL season is ‘most likely scenario’, commissioner says

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“Any kind of major event coming to the city, it has an impact in terms of ensuring that viability of a lot of businesses, particularly when you think about hotels. They need these major events to fill rooms,” Hopkins said.

“When we don’t have these types of events, it makes it more challenging and has an impact in terms of the viability of the business.”

Bushwakker Brewing, meanwhile, says a cancelled season could cost the pub tens of thousands of dollars.

“In 2013, we saw people in our brewpub from all over the country wearing their home province or city’s team jerseys beginning early in Grey Cup week,” the pub told Global News in a statement.

“Additional staff were brought in to meet the increased demand and there was an incredible feeling of celebration and national pride throughout the brewpub all week long. For Regina to lose the opportunity to host the 2020 Grey Cup is both a huge financial and emotional blow.”

However, if there is a CFL season, it won’t start until July at the earliest — inevitably costing teams money, too.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Roughriders CEO says Grey Cup planning continues amid COVID-19

But Regina sports columnist Murray McCormick says the Saskatchewan Roughriders are in a better position than most.

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“The fan base helps a lot and it’s helped build up that sort of a nest egg that allows (the Riders) to move forward and not be as worried as other teams are,” McCormick said.

McCormick added that at the end of the day, Saskatchewan will host a Grey Cup. If the 2021 Grey Cup goes to Hamilton as planned, he said, Regina could see the big game in 2022.

“All the plans aren’t being pushed aside or wasted because the Riders right now are continuing to work under the assumption that there’s going to be a Grey Cup,” McCormick said.

READ MORE: Regina Thunder facing financial uncertainty amid coronavirus pandemic

Regardless, Regina city council has already committed $1,000,000 to this year’s Grey Cup, with another $600,000 for police enforcement.

“We’ll see where it goes from here, but we did commit that and we may get some of that back or all of it,” Mayor Michael Fougere said.

Despite the challenges that come along with a cancelled event, Hopkins says it comes down to safety.

“Yes, the economy is absolutely vital and we need to make sure there is some sort of balance there and I think that’s where we are right now, is trying to balance the needs of the economy- the needs of people going back to work with the safety of people,” Hopkins said.

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“There’s going to be some time that has to go by before we get to the other side of this and that’s just where we are in this point in time and none of us could have foreseen this happening and we are all trying to do this together.”

Click to play video: 'How will sports leagues restart in the pandemic?' How will sports leagues restart in the pandemic?
How will sports leagues restart in the pandemic? – May 4, 2020

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.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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