WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is putting $2.5 million on the table in a bid to have Winnipeg be named a hub city for an abbreviated 2020 CFL season, should it go ahead.
Premier Brian Pallister announced the plan Monday, saying the economic spinoff of the league playing in Winnipeg could be $45 million in business sales and $4.5 million in direct tax revenue.
“Manitoba is leading in recovery with a safe plan to restart our economy, which is why we are ready to make another important investment that supports the restart of our economy and invite the CFL to safely play its shortened 2020 season in Winnipeg,” said Pallister.
The specific CFL-related funding would be used for eligible expenses, such as food and accommodations, practice field rentals, group transportation, and event-specific expenses in Manitoba.
The CFL hub city plan has been thoroughly reviewed by Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.
“The health and safety of all Manitobans and all participants is paramount,” Roussin said. “CFL teams and anyone associated with the hub city will be expected to follow all protocols as reviewed by Public Health, at all times.”
According to the province, approximately 800 participants would result in the equivalent of 55,000 hotel room night stays, which would generate approximately $3.8 million for the provincial economy.
The investment was made as part of the larger $8 million Event Attraction Strategy aimed to maximize the potential of Winnipeg and rural destinations to host large-scale meetings, conventions and events.
A CFL source has said Regina is expected to also garner attention as a potential hub city.
While details would have to be worked out, the plan is for Winnipeg to stage 60 games over 15 weeks, provincial Sport Minister Cathy Cox said.
The CFL has yet to determine how, or if, an abbreviated football season will take place.
— With files from The Canadian Press