CFL Pass

Premier Pallister announces $2.5 million towards hub city bid

There remains a ton of work to do with a deadline fast approaching, but the idea of Winnipeg serving as a hub city for Canadian Football League games in 2020 now has the financial backing of the provincial government.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced Monday a $2.5 million commitment to the proposal should Winnipeg be chosen as the hub city in a COVID-19-affected abridged CFL season, all as part of an $8 million ‘Restart Manitoba Event Attraction Strategy.’

Both Regina and Hamilton have also expressed interest in serving as the CFL’s hub city, with Saskatchewan pledging $3 million Monday. Manitoba has the lowest number of COVID-19 cases of those three locales with 354, including 29 active as of Monday, and the decision on the bids involves more than just the provincial financial commitments, but other factors including hotels, practice facilities and other amenities.

“We are safe for people who choose to come here, we’re safe for Manitobans and we want to be the recipients of some good quality CFL entertainment as well if we restart our economy and help us as Canadian football fans to get a bit of our lives back,” said Premier Pallister.

“I think that’s an incalculable benefit for the Canadian people.”

The hub city concept would see all nine CFL teams play a six-game regular season at IG Field plus a six-game playoff that would include the Grey Cup, for 30 total games over a 15-week period.

The next steps – absolutely critical in the concept coming to reality – would see the Federal government provide financial support and then the CFL Players’ Association sign off on the plan.

“Today’s announcement helps us in that it shows the province is committed to this,” said Blue Bombers President & CEO Wade Miller. “Obviously, we still need the Federal government to be supportive of this event and with our players to get back on the field in 2020.

“We’re working hard to make that happen each day. We continue to have great discussions with the CFLPA. We’re working together to try and get our players back on the field in a safe manner.”

Premier Pallister said the direct return to the province’s $2.5 million investment would be “almost double” and the “return will be in the $45 million in economic impact in estimated dollars of total business sales and 600 jobs.”

Other details about the CFL’s hub city plan that emerged Monday after press conferences by Premier Pallister and Manitoba Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin: