The emotional and economic impacts of cancelled Calgary Stampeders season

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WATCH: The cancelled CFL season is being felt among Stampeders fans and local businesses, but there's optimism for next year. Adam MacVicar reports – Aug 17, 2020

Calgary Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel summarized the cancellation of the 2020 CFL season as disappointing but remains optimistic as the team and league look ahead to next season.

Hufnagel said there were many hours of work put in across the league to put together a shortened season and playoff scenario but the situation didn’t pan out.

“I had a meeting with the coaches and the football op staff today to inform them the season was cancelled,” Hufnagel told reporters Monday evening.

“Right now, we’re in a wait-and-see mode as far as the next few days anyway. Let the dust settle and then start working on the 2021 season.”

Read more: CFL 2020 season officially cancelled

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According to Hufnagel, the league and CFL Players’ Association will be meeting on Tuesday to discuss a variety of issues surrounding the cancelled season, including the status of player contracts.

For many Stampeders fans, Monday’s announcement was not surprising but still disheartening as the league was in preparations to play a shortened season in a Winnipeg hub, pending a loan from the federal government.

“I was not surprised but I was really disappointed because now we all know it’s not going to happen,” Calgary Stampeders fan Patrick McGannon said.

McGannon has been a season ticket holder with the Stampeders for 35 years and said a summer without CFL games has been an adjustment.

“It’s been a really strange-feeling summer not going up to McMahon [Stadium] and seeing our favourite team play,” McGannon said.

The impact of no CFL football has also been felt at Spolumbo’s Deli in Inglewood.

Co-owned by Stampeder alumni Tony Spoletini and Mike Palumbo, the deli is a vendor in McMahon Stadium on game day.

“It’s sad, not just for us, but for a lot of other vendors, the people who sell programs, the people that work at McMahon Stadium and even the businesses surrounding McMahon,” Spoletini said.

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However, Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander said the economic impact on the city has already been felt, as the CFL season would’ve kicked off on June 11.

Lander said he isn’t expecting further losses to the local economy due to the cancelled season.

“Filling up the bars on Stephen Ave. or 17 Avenue to watch the Stamps, at best, you’re talking about the Western championship or the Grey Cup,” Lander said. “Beyond that, it’s a fait accompli that the Stamps are going to make the playoffs, they’re going to make at least the semis… so it’s almost like the fans don’t care anyway until you get to that point.

“So I’m not really sure there’s a lot of economic loss here within the city itself.”

Read more: Njoo positive about talks with CFL but cannot provide timeline for decision

As for the Stampeders organization, Lander said economic turmoil from a cancelled season will be felt less by the team than other clubs due in part to the team’s ownership group.

“They can partly take heart that the Flames, the Hitmen have some amount of profitability in them that was probably helping the Stamps even at the best of times,” Lander said. “It’s not like the Stamps were the moneymaker anyway for Calgary Sports and Entertainment.”

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With the league officially announcing that the CFL will not play a season for the first time since 1919, the attention has now turned to the potential of a 2021 season.

“This is a big body blow. I don’t want to pretend otherwise but I don’t think it will wipe the CFL out or kill the CFL,” 770 CHQR Global News Radio Stampeders play-by-play host Mark Stephen said.

“The CFL will survive — exactly what that looks like that I can’t tell you, but I’m completely convinced we’ll be back at McMahon Stadium next year.”

According to the Stampeders, the organization has been in contact with its season-ticket holders since the postponement of games earlier in the season.

Stampeders officials said that fans were given options as it became apparent quite early that there would be no games played at McMahon Stadium this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The fans are so important in the whole scheme of the Canadian Football League [and] nothing has brought that out more than what has occurred this year,” Hufnagel said. ”

“We’ve seen how much the fans care about the league, which we’re very appreciative of, and we will do everything we can to satisfy our fans as we move forward.”

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