Saskatchewan·Analysis

Is losing 2020 Grey Cup a blessing in disguise?

Is losing 2020 Grey Cup a blessing in disguise? A university prof believes City of Regina will be much better off in long haul

University prof believes City of Regina will be much better off in long haul

The CFL cancelled the 2020 Grey Cup and Festival this week. A University Prof believes that could be a blessing in disguise. (CBC News)

There was disappointment when the CFL announced the cancellation of the 2020 Grey Cup and Festival scheduled for Regina this November.

It's the biggest annual party Canada. For the City of Regina to lose it means a financial hit in the neighbourhood of $16 million.

But realistically how successful would the event have been anyway?

That's what an economics professor at the University of Regina is wondering. 

Jason Childs believes given the current climate surrounding the pandemic — and a pending second wave — this year's Grey Cup party may have fallen flat.

"There's no guarantees we're going to have a lot of inter-provincial travel. People may still be really nervous about this and just stay home and opt out of the event because of the risks associated with gathering in those numbers." said Childs.

As compensation for losing the Grey Cup this year, Regina was awarded the rights for the 2022 Grey Cup. 

"I think this is going to work out reasonably well for Saskatchewan in the long haul, but it's going to take some time to get back there." said Childs.

Jason Childs is an economics professor at the University of Regina (CBC News)

There's the matter of the league itself — will it even survive to see a Grey Cup game in 2022?

For the major sports leagues, the question is 'when will they be back'. For the CFL, it's more like 'IF' they will be back.

The NFL, NHL, NBA, Major League Baseball can all survive on lofty TV revenues.

The CFL — being a gate-driven league — cannot. They need fans in the stands to pay the bills.

Childs says it's unfortunate, because the league was actually on a pretty good run.

"It's been moderately successful as a league for the last several years. They were looking to expand to the Atlantic provinces, Halifax specifically, and you're not going to do that if you're not viable. A complete stoppage of play and the complete loss of revenue through the loss of the gate makes it really hard to survive."

The league is currently evaluating several scenarios to begin the season, in whatever form, in September.

Childs believes to play a season this year is vital for the CFL, whether there are fans in the stadiums or not.

"If there aren't fans in the stands then they're not making any money now. That said if you go away for a year and you don't put a product on the field for an entire year fans will find something else to do. You will see some drop off and some of those fans may not come back." 

Childs says even if the CFL loses money, it will be worth it to keep the product in front of the fans, even if only on TV.

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