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Nenshi breaks down possibilities for CFL football at McMahon Stadium

 Mayor Naheed Nenshi gives updates at the Emergency Operations Centre in Calgary on Thursday, March 19, 2020. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
Mayor Naheed Nenshi gives updates at the Emergency Operations Centre in Calgary on Thursday, March 19, 2020. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

If the CFL wanted to play games with no fans at McMahon Stadium, Mayor Naheed Nenshi says that could happen sooner than a lot of people might expect.

With fans in the stands, though? That’s not likely anytime soon.

Whether that seems like good news or bad news is probably in the eye of the beholder.

It’s certainly encouraging to hear that the Calgary Stampeders might be able to practice sometime this summer.

The sad reality, though, is that the CFL’s economic model likely dictates that there’s no way for there to be a season without fans.

“(Playing without fans) is almost possible now,” Nenshi said Thursday. “It would be possible for a team that’s smaller than a football team because right now you can have 50 people gathering outdoors. If the CFL could find a model to play without any fans, that’s something we could certainly do this summer, even.

“The challenge, as you know, as we’ve heard from the (commissioner Randy Ambrosie) is the CFL requires gate revenue and relies on gate revenue much more than other leagues do. You’re probably more likely to see other leagues continue to play without fans in the stands.”

On Wednesday, Ambrosie spoke with season ticket holders from across the country and said the league was holding onto hope that they might be able to begin the 2020 season in early-September.

With the COVID-19 situation evolving constantly, there’s no reason to dismiss that idea completely. It might feel unlikely, especially when Ambrosie said the “most likely” scenario for the league was a cancelled season when he spoke to the House of Commons standing committee on finance two weeks ago, but there’s nothing wrong with holding onto a little bit of hope.

If we accept that the CFL probably can’t operate with empty stadiums for games, that early-September return date does look a little pie-in-the-sky.

“If there’s no effective treatment for people who get COVID or an effective vaccine and we continue to see some cases of community transmission — so we’re not like New Zealand or Australia where they’re hoping as island nations to be able to just squash it — it’s hard for me to imagine people in close proximity in those numbers in McMahon Stadium,” Nenshi said.

“Could we open McMahon Stadium on a partial basis and have a lot of distancing between people? Anything’s possible, but today it’s too early to tell.”

daustin@postmedia.com

www.twitter.com/DannyAustin_9

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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