Today, Commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced that we are one step closer to CFL Football in 2021 – with a commitment that we will be playing football following a very difficult year without it.
Of course, we would have loved to start on time, but with most of Canada in the grips of a third wave being able to start with you in the stands with us would have been incredibly difficult. So, we are putting all our energy into a new start date: Thursday August 5th.
This means a slightly shorter season at 14 games, and a Grey Cup pushed back to December 12th, but it allows us more time to provide a safer season with stringent health and safety protocols. It also gives provincial governments across the country more time to vaccinate as many Canadians as possible and bring down the Covid infection rates across the board. Most importantly, it allows us time to get the necessary approvals to have you join us, which is necessary for the season to start.
This virus has been unpredictable from the very beginning, and so there are contingencies in place in case things don’t go as planned, but we are putting everything we have into hitting that August 5th target.
We already have some positive signs. The football portion of our return-to-play plan has been given the green light by Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shahab. This document took countless hours of planning, pouring over health and safety protocols and numerous meetings with government and health officials. Our team worked tirelessly on this project, and I am very proud of where we are.
This season will be played under rigorous health protocols for both our fans in the stands and for our players both on and off the field. But all of this is done to ensure we can keep everyone safe. Your safety and the safety of our team is our number one priority.
We continue to work with Saskatchewan health officials to confirm the number of fans allowed in stadium during the season and to finalize the safety protocols required for you to join us. We will be following up very soon with those details, including the ticketing process, but protocols like mandatory masks, social distancing and assigned gates with staggered stadium entry can be expected.
There will be off the field challenges as well. In June, our 2020-21 financials will be coming out and they will show how truly devastating this past year has been for the Club and will reflect multi-million-dollar losses.
The reality is that it will take several years for us to get back in the black and out of the hole this pandemic has left us in. Playing football this season is the most important and most exciting thing we can do, but it will not solve our financial issues.
Many of you have done so much to help us already, by leaving your account credits with us, signing up for the MVP program, becoming a 2020 Rider Champion or sending us general words of support and encouragement. We could not be more thankful. It will take some time to bounce back from that loss, and so this season, we will need you to help us ‘Bring ‘em Out’.
Very soon, we’ll be launching an exciting new project for you to help with just that. In the meantime, one of the best things you can do to support us, if you haven’t already, is get the vaccine as soon as you are eligible, while remaining vigilant and following the public health measures. Stopping the spread of this terrible virus will mean more of you will be able to join us in the stands. You are the heartbeat of our team, and we need you there with us, healthy and chanting “Let’s Go Riders.”
Stay safe and well,