PEI

How some Islanders are feeling about the arrival of the Canadian Premier League

Islanders seem split on how they feel about the soccer league coming to play on P.E.I. this summer. In less than two weeks, all eight teams including players and staff will arrive on the Island to play in the second annual soccer games.

Players, team staff to stay in the Delta Hotel

'I think it's a good thing, they've got tremendous safety protocols in place,' says Byron Lindsay.  (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Islanders seem split on how they feel about the Canadian Premier League playing soccer on P.E.I. this summer. 

About 300 players and staff from eight teams will arrive on P.E.I. in just over two weeks for the 2020 season

The professional league, in its second season, was supposed to begin in April but was delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The new shortened season, which is being dubbed the Island Games, will begin Aug. 13 at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, is reassuring Islanders that the decision was made with their safety in mind. 

Isolation bubble

Chartered flights will pick up the players and bring them to P.E.I. so they won't be intermingling with other travellers. 

'When we look at all those pieces together, how much time they're spending in quarantine, and in an isolation bubble, it's a long time,' Dr. Heather Morrison said. (CBC)

Players will be tested multiple times before they come, and throughout their time on the Island, said Morrison. Each team will be staying on one specific floor at the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown. There won't be mingling between the floors and players won't be allowed to go out to bars or restaurants — only to the field and back.

"They're really in isolation for the 55 days that they're here," said Morrison. 

"So, when we look at all those pieces together, how much time they're spending in quarantine, and in an isolation bubble, it's a long time and it's not going to be easy for players and support staff. I know they want to be safe, and I really want Islanders to be safe." 

'Huge investment'

Those plans have gotten the approval of some Islanders. 

"I think it's a good thing, they've got tremendous safety protocols in place. It's going to be a huge boost in terms of promoting the Island," said Byron Lindsay. 

"It's a huge investment, it's probably a much better payoff than the gentle Island marketing piece. And the only sad point about it is they haven't found a way for us to go take in a game." 

I'm feeling nervous and a little, I think, a little angry because I don't think they thought it through.— Donna White

Soccer fan Fraser McCallum agrees. 

"I read through the articles and announcements that I saw, it looks like it's being done cautiously and with a plan," he said. "I think it's a strange kind of exciting piece of this already bizarre year. But, it could be great for the local economy and I think a good opportunity for our facilities and our industry here."

Others weren't on board with the idea. Donna White said her mother is in a nursing home, and thinks the priority should have been to ease restrictions there, rather than inviting teams to play on the Island. 

'You know we have to open up, and we have to start living again, I know, but that's a lot of people coming,' said Barb Phillips.  (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"I'm feeling nervous and a little, I think, a little angry because I don't think they thought it through," she said. 

"I wonder who made these decisions, right? And who's benefiting from this, I don't know, I feel very, very disappointed in our government for making this decision." 

Some Islanders remain on the fence about the plan.  

"You know we have to open up, and we have to start living again, I know, but that's a lot of people coming, will they stay where they're supposed to? Will they abide by the rules? I don't know," said Barb Phillips. 

CBC News inquired about how the Delta Hotel plans to ensure the players and staff remain isolated in their bubble, as well as how this will help the hotel.

"Having this event allows the hotel to recall a good number of our associates who have been laid off since March, which we are truly thankful to be able to do as a result of this event," said James Tingley, general manager of the hotel.

"Safety and security of our associates and our guests is always our top priority."

More CBC P.E.I. News

About the Author

Travis Kingdon is a journalist with CBC P.E.I. He moved to the Island from Toronto in the spring of 2019.

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