Saskatchewan Roughriders players, fans, and former players celebrated the team’s first game in more than 628 days Friday with a win.
The Roughriders defeated the BC Lions 33-29.
Roughrider’s veteran and current MLA and Minister of Advanced Education Gene Makowsky was in attendance on Friday and told Global News it was great to be back in the stadium.
“It was so much fun,” Makowsky said. “Seeing people you hadn’t seen in quite a while, people that usually sit around you or folks that work at the game.”
“Sometimes you forget how things go and it was great to be back.”
“People talk about their Rider families, you sit next to the same people for 30 years or whatever it may be and you might not have seen them in a while.”
Friday’s game was the first in Saskatchewan since the 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riders Quarterback Cody Fajardo said the atmosphere felt like Grey Cup energy.
“I just had a conversation with myself, ‘just go out there (and) play football, whatever happens, happens,’” Fajardo told reporters after the game.
“I couldn’t even process it to be honest, it just happened so fast,” wide receiver Brayden Lenius said. “It was incredible. It was something that we’ve been working for and waiting for the last 18 months, and all that buzz — I was trying to give the people what they wanted.”
Head Coach Craig Dickenson told reporters after the game he felt grateful to be coaching in Saskatchewan.
“I just think this is such a special place in a lot of ways, you know. Going through that tunnel, it was a neat feeling and walking out, it really feels like family when you walk out here,” Dickenson said. “I feel like I know these people in the stands even though I don’t.”
“It was one of the best days of the year for me,” he added.
Saskatchewan Roughriders fans’ next chance to watch their team play at home is on Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.