Could the CFL play games without fans in 2020?

Montreal Alouettes president Mario Cecchini has been studying how financially the CFL could potentially play games without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated during his town hall the league has been in conversations with the governments in all of the CFL’s jurisdictions, most notably their public health officials in regards to best practices for holding games in any way.

Cecchini explained to TSN 690 radio in Montreal:

“That’s exactly what we’re modelling right now in the sense that obviously when you don’t have fans, you also don’t have a lot of expenses that goes with having fans. That’s what we’re trying to see. You compare the scenarios for example, no fans we’re able to save a lot of expenses versus a stadium which right now the social distancing still applies, we can probably fit only 5,000 to 6,000 people in Percival Molson Stadium. But then you would have full expenses in, so obviously the economics play a role in it.”

Based on medical advice and guidance the CFL has been looking at their facilities and figuring out strategies for how fans might be brought in safely, how many could be in the stadiums, and how they could be accommodated.

“When we have fans we will have sanitary measures. We did a survey internally, our fans are ready to accept sanitary measures and whatever the government asks, but it creates lots of logistics that are new to a lot of people,” Cecchini said.

“We are looking into scenarios at this point, nobody has given up, even those that a lot of people have told us would be impossible to look at like no fans in the stands. We are down to all of those scenarios at this point.”

The new Alouettes president feels television broadcast partners TSN and RDS would be ‘extremely interested in presenting games.’ That TV money could be used to help the three-down league play games in 2020, but whether fans are permitted to attend still needs to be decided.

“We don’t mean disrespect, I don’t throw it out lightly when we look at scenarios without fans. To me it breaks my heart because scoring a touchdown with no crowd behind you is not the same, but at the same time it’s better than nothing.

“Within weeks we will probably be able to communicate the results of all of our studies and all of the possibilities of the different scenarios. It’s quite a challenge on both fronts.”

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