CFL and CEBL delay start of 2021 season

In news as predictable as Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown just as he is about to kick it, the Canadian Football League (CFL) and Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) announced yesterday that both were delaying the start to their respective 2021 seasons. With British Columbia and Ontario both “closing their borders”, reportedly until after May Long Weekend, one can also expect a delay to be announced for the Canadian Premier League (CPL) 2021 schedule.

Edmonton Football Team (Just pick a name already!)

The original Edmonton Football Team schedule started with a May 29th exhibition game at Commonwealth Stadium hosting the Calgary Stampeders. Here’s a piece of the article about the changes:

The bad news, that the 2021 CFL season has had its start date pushed back to Aug. 5, will feature 14 games and that the Grey Cup will be played on Dec. 12 in Hamilton can feel like a gut punch. The hope, as Canada fights its way through a third wave of COVID-19, is that the country is strongly emerging from the pandemic by August and that normalcy — a word we’ve been socially distanced from for 13 months now — will be settling in from BC all the way to Newfoundland.

The good news is the certainty that’s in the league’s statement on its plans for this year.

“We will play football in 2021,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said.

The CFL is unlike other professional sports leagues that can get by on their astronomical TV deals, which afford for games in empty arenas and stadiums throughout Canada and the U.S., easily reaching a sitting audience of hundreds of millions of people. Fans in the stands mean everything to the CFL. The pandemic is its worst enemy.

“The CFL depends on ticket revenue more than other professional sports leagues in North America,” Ambrosie said.”

With such a large announcement as a season ticket holder I expected an e-mail statement from the team. Here is a part of it:

“Our Season Seat Holders have been walking in step with their team, and as we are planning what our season ahead will look like, we offer our thanks for their loyalty. United, we keep our eyes on the coming 2021 season, when the Green and Gold will take to the turf once again this summer.

When we return, you will be entering The Brick Field to watch a legendary team adopt a new name. We are not a new team, but a RENEWED team. With your support and participation, the proud championship-winning environment you have come to expect, will excite you for years to come under our new banner.

Head coach Jaime Elizondo and his staff will prepare a squad of all-star vets and breakout rookies, eager to wave our flag through another action-packed season of our football – CFL football.”

Edmonton Stingers (your defending CEBL Champions)

The CEBL played in a “bubble” last season that started on July 15. The original start date for your Edmonton Stingers in 2021 was June 5th with their first home game being June 10th. Version two of the 2021 schedule begins against the team they defeated in the Championship Final (Fraser Valley Bandits) on Thursday June 24th. Here is part of the CEBL statement:

“”When we announced our regular season schedule in February, we explained that we would be reducing our season from 20 to 14 games and pushing the start of the season from mid-May to early-June with the hope that might enable as many fans as possible to attend games in person,” said Mike Morreale, commissioner and chief executive officer of the CEBL.

“Getting our players onto the basketball court and accommodating our fans in a safe manner continues to be our priority. Out of respect for the gravity of the mounting challenges that people, businesses, government and medical leaders, and most importantly frontline workers are experiencing in many of our teams’ markets, we now also feel it would be tone-deaf to not delay the start of our season as late as we can while still respecting the integrity of a season in which we plan to play in each of our seven team markets.

“Sports teams make a unique impact on their communities, and CEBL clubs will play an important role in rejuvenating their local markets this summer. To better fill that role and maximize the impact of our return to play we can start the season three weeks later and move some June games into July through a more compact schedule,” Morreale added.

… “Unfortunately, we cannot push back the end of our season because our players also compete professionally in other top international leagues or the NBA G League beginning at the end of August.””

The e-mail sent out to Stingers season ticket holders effectively echoed the league statement. When it came down to the nitty gritty of our tickets, ” If fans are allowed into Expo Centre Hall D at any point this summer” is not the statement a fan wants to read.

Granted at this point, what choice does any team have but to include the “if”.

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