Naylor, Lalji dissect CFL's decision to push start of season back, Grey Cup changes
The norms of the sports world continue to be shattered.
The Canadian Football League announced Wednesday that this year’s 108th Grey Cup game – if it occurs at all – will be played at the home stadium of whichever league finalist had the better record during the regular season.
So while the game could yet be played in Regina’s Mosaic Stadium, as was originally scheduled for Nov. 22, it’s just as likely to end up taking place at the home field of one of the league’s other eight teams.
This year’s Grey Cup week will not feature the traditional festival, which is largely built around huge concert tents full of people at close proximity to one another.
Regina will now become host to the 2022 Grey Cup game and festival, with Hamilton remaining the host for 2021. Meanwhile, this year's championship game could be moved into early December, depending on when a truncated schedule might begin.
The only way the Grey Cup game won’t be played at the home of the finalist with the best regular-season record is if the league adopts a hub-cities model to play its truncated season. In that event, the Grey Cup game is expected to be played in one of the two selected cities.
While CFL training camps were due to open this week, it’s been a foregone conclusion for more than a month that the league would be unable to play its full 18-game schedule.
As part of Wednesday's announcement, the CFL acknowledged the earliest it could begin play would be September, meaning the cancellation of this year’s Touchdown Atlantic contest between Toronto and Saskatchewan, which was set for Halifax on July 25.
“We know a lot must fall into place for us to play games this September. I’ve said myself it doesn’t appear to be our most likely scenario,” commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “But there is one other thing we’ve learned in this pandemic: a lot can change in 100 days. Whatever comes, we will follow the advice of governments and public health officials. There is only one thing we want more than the return of CFL football – and that is a safe and healthy Canada.”
The league and its players association have been working on various models to anticipate how a season might be played in the event it is allowed to occur. The CFL is also continuing its dialogue with various branches of government on a request for financial assistance.
As to when the league will have to reach a decision on playing this season, there’s been no drop-dead date released.
However, based on conversations TSN has had with football operations personnel around the league, it’s believed teams would need to be preparing logistics by mid-June for a Labour Day kickoff to the season.
Teams would then need a definite “go” signal by early July, allowing American players to arrive for mandatory 14-day quarantines before the start of training camp.