Edmonton Elks CEO ‘extremely apologetic’ for how season has gone

The president and CEO of the Edmonton Elks has issued an apology to the fans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The president and CEO of the Edmonton Elks told 630 CHED he’s “extremely apologetic” for how the 2021 season has gone.

Going into Friday’s final home game of the season, the team has a 2-8 record and hasn’t been able to pull out a win at home.

“Frankly, we’ve had a very poor year,” Chris Presson said.

“We know it’s been a rough year… our apologies as to how we performed this year in all facets, and I just appreciate you sticking with us.”

The Elks didn’t play last season as the CFL suspended all play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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As the team returned to play this season, the club suffered a massive COVID-19 outbreak. Between that outbreak and other stand-alone cases, the club recorded 17 positive cases.

“Whenever you have an outbreak that we unfortunately did, it’s hard for us to recover from that,” Presson said.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Elks hosting Fan Appreciation Night'
Edmonton Elks hosting Fan Appreciation Night

He also pointed to the health and safety changes when the team came back as part of the reason for the club’s performance, calling it all a “perfect storm.”

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“The guys are under a lot of mental pressure, and when you’re getting tested every other day, it certainly creates things in your mind because you don’t want to be the person that tests positive, that may have given it to a teammate,” Presson said.

“Then, when you get your positive results or your negative results back, you start to stress about it again because you know you’re testing the next day.

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And it’s not just the players on the field who have been impacted. Presson said because the Elks are a community-owned team, he reduced the office staff more than any other CFL team. Not only has that affected morale in the office, it’s led to difficulties with fans.

Presson said he’s spoken with more than 100 fans this week alone and most of them have complaints about the customer service fans have experienced this year.

“We’re as guilty for our off-field performance as they are for their on-field performance. But like them, we’re busting it every day, trying to figure it out as well.”

Kevin MacDonald has been a fan of the team for nearly 40 years.

He said he was ready to “antler up” and cheer on the Elks.

Instead, he hasn’t been to a single game all season.

“I have the (game times) marked in my schedule… but I’m not really too excited to go,” MacDonald said. “I don’t actually want to go.”

He said there are lots of questions around the EE organization, particularly the management team. “A very large shakeup needs to happen,” MacDonald said. “And the players… do they want to be here anymore? Do they event want to be playing football?”

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The fan said the entertainment value has been lacking, making it challenging to be a fan.

“I don’t know why (I’m staying on as a fan). I guess I know that change is going to happen. But, it’s becoming harder and harder to be a fan when you don’t feel appreciated.”

Friday is fan appreciation night and the team is trying to do its best to thank the fans that stuck through this season. There will be giveaways, food and drink specials and bands and DJs throughout the stadium. Fans will also be given field access after the game, though the players won’t be present due to the bubble they have to stay in.

Friday is also Toys on the Turf in support of 630 CHED Santas Anonymous. Fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or cash donation. Santas will have volunteers set up outside the game.

–With files from Morgan Black, Global News

Click to play video: 'Toys on the Turf event aimed at supporting 630 CHED Santas Anonymous'
Toys on the Turf event aimed at supporting 630 CHED Santas Anonymous

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