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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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Click to experience 2021 Festival of Trees online!

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Red Deer Festival of Trees 2021 is dedicated to providing funding for critical operating room equipment. Having access to new and replacement equipment for the OR will improve the patient experience and reduce wait times for life-saving surgeries, allowing our friends and family to remain close to home during their procedures.

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REBELS ANNOUNCE ‘FESTIVAL WEEKEND’ IN SUPPORT OF 2021 FESTIVAL OF TREES

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News Release from The Red Deer Rebels

The Red Deer Rebels are proud to announce “Festival Weekend” on November 26 and 27, in support of the 2021 Festival of Trees!

Festival of Trees, hosted by the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, will support critically needed equipment in the operating room at Red Deer Regional Hospital to help provide a higher level of service to Central Albertans.

Beginning Wednesday November 24 at 9 a.m., a five-day progressive 50/50 inclusive of both weekend Rebels home games, will support the 2021 Festival of Trees and RDRHF, Rebels Foundation for Education and Wellness, and the Rotary Club of Red Deer. Sales close at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 28. Tickets can be purchased at Rebels5050.com.

Help support the 2021 Festival of Trees by using promo code “TREES21” to purchase your tickets via Tickets Alberta, for either the November 26 or 27 Rebels games. The Rebels will donate $7 from every adult ticket and $4 from every youth ticket back to the Festival of Trees. The promo code is available for online purchases only.

Fans can visit the Festival of Trees during the intermission of both weekend games and view all trees available for auction. Fans can also show their ticket for free entry to the Festival all weekend.

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