It would seem that paNOW made some waves in Prince Albert with a Thursday story written by Alison Sandstrom that carried the headline: City facilities expected to remain shut until next year.
The Art Hauser Centre, the home of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, is a city facility.
On Friday, paNOW allowed city officials to use its website to “clarify that they have not made any determination on the opening date for facilities. They made assumptions for the purpose of financial forecasting, but no decisions have been made.”
Of course decisions haven’t been made. These pandemic-riddled days are full of uncertainty and there really isn’t any end in sight; at least, not that anyone can predict with any sense of accuracy. I mean, if the NHL doesn’t know whether it will be able to play in July or August or September, how can the WHL know that it will start its season on time?
Interestingly, there wasn’t one sentence in Sandstrom’s story that indicated any city facilities in Prince Albert would definitely be shut down until some time in 2021.
It’s far too early to make that kind of decision, but officials in all cities will be looking ahead, putting together various scenarios and trying to figure out where they are going to be at in terms of finances at year’s end. That is exactly what Greg Dionne, Prince Albert’s mayor, told Sandstrom: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities. So lots of the decisions will be made when (the province) sets dates and rules for Phase 4, then we’ll look at them and say (for example), well, that doesn’t make any sense, ‘sorry the pool has to be closed.’ ”
As Dionne pointed out, if the province limits outdoor gatherings to 30 people, “you won’t be opening the pool for 30 people.”
At this point, the Saskatchewan government has limited gatherings to 10 people or fewer. There could be changes coming on June 8 that would bump that up to 15 for indoor groups and 30 for outdoor gatherings.
But when the time comes, if indoor gatherings remain limited to 50 or 100 or even 200, Prince Albert isn’t likely to be opening the Art Hauser Centre.
As Sandstrom pointed out in her story, even with all the cost-saving things the city has enacted in the last while, it still expects to lose $750,000 by year’s end. That may be a drop in, say, Vancouver’s bucket, but it’s big coin to a city the size of Prince Albert.
And you can bet this same scenario is being played out in various other WHL cities.
Cities also have to be wondering about how much they are going to have to spend on changes to facilities in order to meet new health standards whenever they are back in business. Take an arena, for example. Does a dressing room get completely sanitized after every use? How many sanitizer stations are needed? How often are the washrooms to be sanitized? Will more staff have to be hired in order to get all of this done?
Meanwhile, Michael Scissons, the Raiders’ business manager, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW on Friday that it’s business as usual.
“We’re doing everything we can to prepare for a regular hockey season just like we would any other year,” Scissons said. “There’s been nothing to point at this point that it’s going to be anything different. . . . We have a big 50th year coming up right now and there’s a lot of work to go into it. We’re excited for the season to get going.”
On May 22, Ed Willes, the Postmedia sports columnist in Vancouver, wrote this:
“Giants owner Ron Toigo doesn’t think the WHL will resume play until January and, to date, season-ticket holders have been understanding.
“But, ‘You can make that commitment today, but what happens in six or seven months if you don’t have a job? That’s the biggest concern. What will the economy look like? And that’s universal. It’s not just sports.’ ”
“This year’s John Deere Classic, scheduled for July 9-12, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In lieu of a news release, the PGA Tour announced the breakup in a John Deere letter.”
Some sports and leagues have returned to play. albeit without fans, and, if all goes according to plan, soon there will be more, including the NBA and NHL. “Beyond logistics, though, a deeper dilemma shadows the whole exercise,” writes Nick Faris of thescore.com. “Is it ethical for team sports to resume during a pandemic?
“The implications of this question are myriad and serious. To return in the COVID-19 era, leagues need an abundance of tests and the willingness to keep playing through positive cases. Players and many other, older people will bear these health risks so that the show can go on. Viewers watching at home must square this knowledge with their desire to consume and enjoy the spectacle.”
These are things junior hockey leagues have to be wondering about, too. What are things going to be like in August when they will be hoping to open training camps? Is there a junior league alive capable of absorbing the cost of regular testing? There are all kinds of questions, few, if any, with answers at this point in time.
Faris spoke with four expert ethicists and the results, which are rather thought-provoking, are right here.
Jack Bowen, co-author of Sport, Ethics and Leadership, offered this food for thought:
“I am a little curious about what the messaging will be (when sports resume). These guys are guarding each other in basketball. The women’s soccer league is opening in three weeks. ‘Oh, everything must be fine — let’s go out and party and live our normal lives.’ I’m trying my best to follow what expert scientists are saying, not what sports leagues are doing, but humans aren’t following the science. They’re following the social trends.
“In this case, the optics and the messaging could affect things like not mitigating harm and sending mixed messages, which people will then act on. The leagues need to be really aware of that. I feel like the leagues need to take that on as part of their social responsibility — to say, ‘Look, here’s what we’re doing. Stay at home and watch these games with your family. Be safe.’ That sort of messaging could go a long way.”
Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The ESPN documentaries on Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong were interesting. Now how about a documentary or two on people who become superstars without being bullies and jerks? Just to show the kiddies that it can be done that way.”
Ostler, again: “Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? Boring. Give viewers the golf match they really want to see: Obama vs. Trump.
Golf’s Mackenzie Tour cancelled its season on Friday. The Mackenzie Tour, which was heading into its eighth season, is the Canadian men’s pro circuit. . . . This season was to have featured 13 stops. . . .
La Liga, Spain’s top men’s soccer league, is to resume training on Monday, with a return to play set for June 11. La Liga shut down on March 12. . . . It plans on finishing its schedule on July 19. . . .
Two Formula 1 races have gotten the OK from the Austrian government. They are scheduled for July 5 and 12, without spectators, in Spielberg, 200 km southwest of Vienna. . . .
ESPN followed up The Last Dance with a two-part documentary on Lance Armstrong. Remember him? No, I didn’t watch it. Christine Brennan of USA Today did, and then wrote, among other things: “After soldiering through 2½ months of a pandemic, what did we do to deserve this, another TV network giving Armstrong airtime to share childhood pictures and his innermost feelings as he retells his enduringly reprehensible story?”
With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.
Headline at fark.com: Viewers who successfully complete 64-hour Derek Jeter marathon on MLB Network will receive free gift basket.
The Los Angeles Kings announced Saturday morning that they won’t be renewing the contract of Mike Stothers, who had been the head coach of their AHL franchise for six seasons. He was the head coach of the Manchester Monarchs for one season when the franchise moved to California and became the Ontario Reign. . . . The Reign won the Calder Cup as AHL championship in 2015. . . . Stothers, 58, was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for three seasons (2011-14) before taking over the Monarchs.