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If fans don’t fill the seats, should the CFL get government aid to stay alive? “Yes” or “No” on CFL help?

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Here’s the question: If fans stay away from home games, should the CFL get government aid to stay alive?

Does the Canadian Football League really matter anymore? I hope so, but I’m not sure. Honestly, I don’t know what the CFL is any more. If you’ve got ideas to share – please, no comparisons with the NFL – I’m interested in seeing them.

The first team I ever paid attention to was the Toronto Argonauts. It was a long time ago – 1950, to be exact. Al Dekdebrun (who?) was the quarterback. Ulysses Curtis (who?) and Bill Bass (who?) were the running backs. Toronto won the Grey Cup that year, beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 13-0. All were among a rare group at the time: U.S guys known for gridiron purpose as immigrants.

This happened a full four years before Jackie Parker, the best player in CFL history, became an Edmonton Eskimo and seven years before Jim Finks arrived from the National Football League to develop running back Earl Lunsford and quarterback Joe Kapp for the Calgary Stampeders. They were imports, too.

There’s no real room to question whether these Alberta franchises have been the brightest and most stable of all Canadian franchises, east and west, since that distant time.

Equally valuable, some of the time, have been the Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. All the rest have staggered more often than a room full of heavy drinkers on New Year’s Eve; except perhaps for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, they’re still off balance. The B.C. Lions, despite the presence of Mike Reilly, who might be the best quarterback in the league, drew mostly yawns from spectators.

The Argos play home games in a facility where fans come disguised as empty seats. The Montreal Alouettes had a loyal owner who finally got tired of writing million-dollar cheques to cover team costs, so the league took control. About six months ago, two Toronto men bought the franchise. How long before league president Randy Ambrosie has to step up and take control again?

Ottawa had a terrible year on the field and a poor one at the gate last year. For billions of reasons tied logically to COVID-19, the outlook is not promising there.

Millions of words have been written and spoken about Ambrosie’s big international dreams. Accountants have spent countless hours attempting to find the basis for his claim that the league needs about $30 million from the government to play at least a partial 2020 season. If no games are played, he estimates the need is more than 100 million so the CFL can operate in 2021.

Provincial governments have stepped up to help individual teams: then-Premier Don Getty introduced a fund to help Edmonton and Calgary; Saskatchewan’s political bosses understood the province-wide love of the Roughriders and showed admirable tolerance when necessary.

For me, the Grey Cup has always been a mainstay in Canadian sports. Mature writers often referred to it as “the grand national drunk” because of the hordes who scheduled their annual holidays to attend. To ride eastward to Toronto on the old Grey Cup trains was a exercise in durability, especially if you had to write for publication on the way.

Prairie cities have continued to treat Grey Cup week as a celebration. Great times are had, civic and provincial budgets are fattened. A large number of games, regular season and playoffs, are exciting. Speed means more than bulk in the CFL. Many of the talented import players – Pinball Clemons and Tom Wilkinson are prime examples – have stayed in Canada to benefit our game.

All returns to the question: if fans stay away from home games, should the CFL get government aid to stay alive?

I vote yes, but I’ve been wrong before.

Our sports history has value

 

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Alberta

Keep your eyes on the road – delayed ‘spring’ highway cleanup takes place this Saturday

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Volunteers cleaning up Alberta highways

September 16, 2020

The annual highway cleanup, which usually occurs in the spring but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sept. 19, volunteers wearing bright orange safety vests will be collecting trash along Alberta highways to raise funds for community organizations.

Motorists are advised to watch for the volunteers, slow down, obey signs and use caution when passing cleanup crews.

The organizations, which include 4-H clubs, Scouts, Girl Guides, schools, church organizations and other non-profit groups, earn $100 per kilometre cleaned.

Quick facts

  • Volunteers must be nine years old or older to participate.
  • They must take part in a safety training program and be under adult supervision.
  • Last year, the Alberta government contributed about $1.28 million to 740 volunteer organizations involved in the highway cleanup.
  • More than 18,000 volunteers collected more than 56,000 bags of garbage while cleaning up more than 13,700 kilometres of Alberta roads.
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Calgary

Summer is here to Stay at Calgary’s Only Indoor Beach Facility

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After a fairly stagnant summer, where the typical buzz of team athletics and busy sporting fields has been largely missed due to COVID-19, the return of the winter weather is being dreaded by most. 

Do not fear the cold, however, there is a way for Calgarians to beat the winter blues. The Beach YYC, Calgary’s only indoor beach recreation facility offers “a little bit of the summer, all year long”. Located in southeast Calgary at 3030-2600 Portland Street, The Beach YYC is a 23,000 square foot facility with almost 13,000 square feet of beach court space and more than 700 tons of sand.
“After the way the summer has been, where people haven’t been able to play the normal leagues and sports they usually do, people are looking for a social, fun, active thing to do.” Says Elliot Weinstein, Founder of The Beach YYC, “And here we are!” 

Originally inspired by an indoor beach facility located in Vancouver, BC, Elliot decided to introduce the concept to the city of Calgary. As the fifth facility of its kind in Canada and the only one available in Alberta, The Beach YYC draws both high and low level players from across the country for everything from major tournaments to evening rec leagues. In addition to offering rec, intermediate and competitive beach volleyball leagues in co-ed and gendered divisions, the facility has 5 courts that can be adjusted to accommodate beach volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, Spikeball and dodgeball games.

“It’s a great place for people to maintain and improve their skills during the winter months,” says Elliot, “that way they can jump right back into their summer sports when the weather changes.”

In addition to hosting regularly scheduled leagues, The Beach YYC offers kids play dates and camps, catered events such as birthdays, corporate events and beach parties, as well as weekly drop-in rates – which have been on hold due to COVID-19 but will resume when deemed appropriate. 

Opened in September of 2018, The Beach YYC is now approaching its 2-year anniversary, and recently announced the opening of their beachside diner, George’s Beach Club! Named in honor of Elliot’s grandfather George, the club features a full comfort-food menu that includes delicious anomalies like the Bahn Mi Sub, the Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Poutine, and banana splits for dessert. 

Now in the final stages of securing a liquor license, George’s will soon be a full-service destination for players and friends to relax at before or after games with a pint and bite. 

Don’t wait on that tropical vacation to get your toes back in the sand … everything is better at The Beach! 

To learn more about The Beach YYC or to check out George’s Beach Club, now available on Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats, visit https://www.thebeachyyc.ca

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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