Fans across the CFL finally have something to look forward to in 2021.
Although there is no guarantee the CFL will be playing football next year, the league has decided to release the schedule for the upcoming season. However, one of the things not announced — and not yet known — is how many, if any, fans will be allowed in stadiums.
“We’re looking forward to hosting our comeback season in our stadiums, in front of our fans,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said Friday in a release.
“With this schedule, we’re signalling that we’re looking forward with optimism to playing in 2021.”
It’s a full 21-week schedule with 18 games, as each team receives three bye weeks throughout the season.
The Riders’ bye weeks fall on Week 11, Week 16 and the final week of the season, Week 21.
And while the playoffs will follow Week 21, Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo said the first few weeks of the season might have that same post-season intensity after players have been away from the field so long.
“It’s going to be crazy to see the first couple games of the CFL next year because they are going to be like playoff games,” Fajardo told reporters on Thursday in a media availability during Grey Cup Unite, the CFL’s weeklong virtual celebration.
“Guys are going to be so excited to compete. You’re going to see that everyone’s giving all effort, every single play like it’s a playoff game and we’re going to be in Week 1.”
The green and white’s schedule also features alternating home and away games all season long, meaning no long road trips or extended home periods. One of the highlighted games has the Riders hosting the Calgary Stampeders on Canada Day at Mosaic Stadium, while another edition of the Labour Day Classic against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is set for Sunday, Sept. 5.
Before the season gets going, Saskatchewan will take on Winnipeg twice in the pre-season, with a home-and-home series against the Bombers in Winnipeg on May 28 and back at home on June 4.
“Over the last several months we have done a tremendous amount of work behind-the-scenes to get ready for the Green and White to be back on the field for the 2021 season,” Roughriders president and CEO Craig Reynolds said in a release.
“This schedule reflects our ongoing plans to play football next year and how hopeful we are, with the help and guidance of our local health authorities, that our fans will be able to join us back home at Mosaic Stadium.”
The Riders home schedule features one Thursday night game, one Friday night game and four “family-friendly” Saturday games that start at 5 p.m.
The Riders will face Edmonton, Calgary and B.C. each three times, and Winnipeg twice. They will play Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal twice, while only seeing Hamilton once, which is one of the quirks of the schedule, to allow for more divisional games and less travel.
The Riders would, however, travel to Hamilton in the 2021 season if they make it to the Grey Cup, which is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 21 at Tim Horton’s Field.