Canadian Football League fans are no longer in limbo with the board of governors voting on Monday, June 14, to give the 2021 season the green light.
The nine governors, or team owners, have unanimously approved the CFL’s proposed shortened 14-game season starting on August 5. The Grey Cup will be played in Hamilton on December 12.
“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement after the vote had been taken.
The owners took the bit between their teeth and made their decision even though municipal and provincial governments, as well as the federal government, have not yet confirmed if fans can be in stadiums, something the CFL has said repeatedly it needs for it to have a profitable season.
Ambrosie said the league is on track to get all of the health and safety approvals it needs and that he is confident that fans will be allowed into stadiums, although just how many is not known at this stage.
Public health officials in all provinces where the CFL has teams have said as long as the vaccination rate continues to go up and the rate of COVID-19 infections plateaus or falls, the more life will get back to normal. And that includes eventual full capacities in stadiums.
The CFL being able to remain financially viable has been the big backdrop to this whole thing ever since the pandemic started last year. The league made that crystal clear in 2020 when the Trudeau government turned down its application for an interest-free $30 million loan.
Prior to that, the CFL had opened its requests for government loans starting at $150 million and when that was rejected, it lowered the amount until it got down to $30 million. When Ottawa gave its final no, the board of governors voted to cancel the 2020 season.
It has been widely reported since then that the CFL lost somewhere between $60 million and $80 million in 2020.
The CFL and CFL Players Association have signed off on an amended Collective Bargaining Agreement for the 2021 season. Both sides are due to hash out a new CBA in the offseason as the current one expires at the end of this season.
The board of governors also approved that amended CBA at their meeting on Monday.
“I want to acknowledge our governors for choosing to move forward in this very positive way,” Ambrosie added.
The complete schedule for the 2021 season is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, June 15. Teams will also unveil how they plan to distribute tickets to season ticket holders.
Training camps will open on July 10.