Canadian Government To CFL: No Loan For You

Canadian government is not loonie for the CFL.

The late David Stern while he was commissioner of the National Basketball Association in the 1990s explained how United States-based sports leagues operated. It was a three-legged stool concept. You needed government, a large cable TV deal and robust corporate support complete with government backed incentives to buy luxury boxes or club seats. The incentives include tax breaks because corporations were buying big ticket items and using the seats for business purposes. Local government provides funding or tax breaks and incentives to build a stadium and or arena. In 1984, the United States federal government created a basic extended cable TV tier where consumers paid for bundled channels in a monthly lump sum if they chose the tier. The consumer had to take all the channels or none of them. Sports channels proliferated and put money in sports owners’ pockets. 

Because of the Canadian government’s inaction, there will be no Canadian Football League games this season. Under normal circumstances the CFL would be approaching the halfway point in the season by now. The season was on hold because of COVID-19. The CFL is very dependent on stadium revenue for its existence because it only gets a smattering of Canadian dollars from Canadian TV and pennies on the dollar from the American TV markets. On August 3rd, the Canadian Football League Commissioner Randy Ambrosie went to Parliament seeking a $23.7 million interest free loan to get through the 2020 season. He was rebuffed. Ambroise also approached Canada’s Public Health Agency with a plan that would have created a bubble in Winnipeg, Manitoba that would have isolated coaches, players and staff. The CFL proposed a six-game regular season complete and then the playoffs. The CFL and its players association would have had to sign off on the bubble plan. But the CFL was abandoned the scheme.