National soccer league asks to play on P.E.I. this summer

Canada’s top soccer league has approached the P.E.I. government about the possibility of holding its 2020 season in the province.

‘We’ve got to be careful,' says Tourism minister

The games would be played for television only, without a live audience. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports for CPL)

Canada's top soccer league has approached the P.E.I. government about the possibility of holding its 2020 season on the Island.

Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay said he understands the Canadian Premier League is pursuing several options, and discussions are in early stages.

"They're looking for a safe place to have their season," said MacKay.

"It's just the starting phase right now. I'm not sure whether this will go anywhere or not."

In order to mitigate the risk of someone in the league bringing COVID-19 to the province, the league is proposing everyone would quarantine for 14 days before arriving and then a further 14 days after that, for a total of 28 days.

The league would bring significant benefits to its summer season host. The 300 players, coaches and media would be on the Island for 60 days for a 36-game season. The games would be played without a live audience, for television broadcast only.

It represents about 16,000 room nights. To put that in some perspective, last July there were just under 75,000 room nights sold on the Island. The sales would be welcome news for an industry staring at a bleak season.

With provincial borders closed, the only current hope for any kind of tourist season is uncertain planning to open a Maritime bubble, perhaps some time in July.

"We'd love to see it. It would be a huge impact for the economy," said MacKay.

"But we've got to be careful. The health and safety of Islanders is the most important thing right now."

MacKay said with all the current demands on the Chief Public Health Office it is difficult to make this request a priority. But the league is planning to start the quarantine of participants on June 15, and MacKay the province will probably have to make a decision in the next few days.

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With files from Island Morning