CFL commissioner cautiously optimistic about 2021 season, Hamilton Grey Cup

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie speaks at a news conference in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The CFL sent federal Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault a revised revised financial request Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

After the 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, football fans have the same question — will there be a 2021 season?

“Personally I’m very confident that we’re going to get back on the field this year,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie told CHML’s Rick Zamperin.

Read more: CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

The league had discussions last season with the federal government, about obtaining a $30-million, interest-free loan. At the time, the league said it was vital to get the cash in order to continue to play.

Ambrosie pointed out, those talks are continuing.

“We’re having conversations in a number of different areas, all designed to help us set up the right environment to play,” he said.

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“Some of the answer lies with the vaccine rollout and how quickly does that happen. We all know the sooner we get vaccinated, the more likely it is that provincial authorities will let fans into our stands.”

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If the CFL decides that the season can move ahead, the question then becomes … can they do it without fans in the stands? Unlike other leagues, the CFL is almost entirely gate-driven.

“It’s certainly very difficult if you can’t have fans in the stands. Are we talking about two to three weeks, or the whole season?”

Read more: CFL commissioner Ambrosie says league is committed to returning to play in 2021

Ambrosie indicated that conversations between the league and the various provincial health agencies about a return-to-play protocol will occur soon.

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Plans are for the first pre-season game to be held on May 23.

The season would open June 10, the Grey Cup game would be held at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field on Nov. 24.

Click the arrow below to listen to the interview between CHML’s Rick Zamperin and CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

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