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Saskatchewan Roughriders submit CFL hub city bid, province commits $3M

Saskatchewan Roughriders' president and CEO Craig Reynolds speaks during a press conference held at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan on Sept. 1, 2015. Michael Bell / The Canadian Press

If the Canadian Football League chooses to play a shortened season through a hub-city format similar to other professional sports, Regina could end up a host.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders said it has submitted a “competitive” bid, if the 2020 season happens.

Read more: Manitoba to make bid for Winnipeg to be a CFL hub city, should season go ahead

“We are proud of the package that we put together with help from public health, our provincial government, the City of Regina and the Regina Hotel Association and for the potential economic activity a winning bid could bring to our province and to Regina,” the Saskatchewan Roughriders told Global News in an email statement on Monday.

“We are excited about the opportunity of potentially being a hub city, but whether we win the bid or not we support the CFL and are hopeful that we can get back on the field and play football in 2020.”

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The Roughriders aren’t the only ones looking to play host.

On Monday, the Manitoba government announced it would be submitting a bid to the CFL, proposing Winnipeg as a hub city. It said it is committing $2.5 million to make it happen.

Read more: Rick Zamperin: CFL’s newest coronavirus plan is way out of the box

“I think this is the right spot to host the CFL. I think it’s the safest place,” Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said.

“We’ve got a pretty good general back and forth going (with the league) so far and we’re told … we have a few days to nail down, cross some t’s and dot some i’s.”

Just hours after Pallister’s announcement, the Saskatchewan government decided to flex some muscle.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to commit $3 million as part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ bid to be the hub city for the 2020 season, provided the one-hub city model is approved by health officials and the Canadian Football League and Regina is selected as the hub city,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Gene Makowsky said in emailed statement.

He said he views Regina as an “exceptional” choice as a hub city.

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Read more: Infectious disease expert likes hub plans, but says CFL and other leagues still face issues

“The new Mosaic Stadium and other facilities are state-of-the-art and are well suited to accommodate all the needs required in a hub city model,” Makowsky said.

“The Riders have worked closely with Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer and health officials to develop a responsible plan to ensure proper protocols are in place for this unique season.”

The province said the commitment is part of a larger bid put together in collaboration with the Roughriders, public health, the city and the Regina Hotel Association. 

“The selection of Regina as the CFL’s hub city would have a significant positive impact on our hospitality sector and the city’s economy,” Makowsky said.

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere is fully on board with the idea, saying it would be great for the city.

“This is what we want to see in our city. It’s going to be a great injection for hotels and our city, of course,” Fougere said.

Read more: Canadian Football League submits revised financial request to federal government

“The food and service industry will also benefit a great deal by this, so as long as the chief medical officer is OK with the system that has been put in place by the CFL, I think we’ll be fine.”

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On July 4, TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported the league floated a proposal to the CFL Players’ Association that includes a six-game regular season and an expanded eight-team playoff.

The proposed plan would also include a shorter training camp, prorated salaries and bigger practice rosters, and the games would most likely be played in a hub city.

A CFL source said July 10 the league is now seeking roughly $42.5 million in aid from the federal government.

In April, the CFL first asked for up to $150 million in financial assistance in the event of a cancelled 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

— With files from Rick Zamperin, Shane Gibson and Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press.

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Saskatchewan Roughriders release 2019 financial statement, prepare for 2020 hit – Jun 25, 2020

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