TORONTO -- The Canadian Football League season starts June 30th when the Montreal Alouettes launch their quest for a third straight Grey Cup championship with a home game against the British Columbia Lions to open RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend, the league announced today as it released its full schedule for 2011.
“The Als’ quest to achieve a rare ‘three-peat’ is just one of the story lines that will captivate our fans as our league makes its journey towards the 99th Grey Cup game this November in a beautifully refurbished B.C. Place in Vancouver,” said Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League.
“It’s going to be a tremendous year and, like millions of Canadians, we can’t wait for the season to start.”
The Als are attempting to be the first CFL team in almost three decades to win three Grey Cups in a row. The Edmonton Eskimos captured five consecutive Grey Cups from 1978 to 1982, and three in a row from 1954 to 1956, while the Toronto Argonauts won in 1945, 1946 and 1947.
Once again this season, Canadians can celebrate our league as they’re gearing up to celebrate our country: RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend begins with the Als-Lions league opener at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT on Thursday, June 30th and is followed by a double header on Canada Day, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers visiting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT and the Toronto Argonauts playing the Stampeders in Calgary at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT. RONA Canada Day Kickoff Weekend closes with the Western Division Champion Saskatchewan Roughriders hosting the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday, July 3 at 7:00pm ET / 4:00pm PT.
All CFL regular season games are broadcast live on TSN. All Montreal Alouettes regular season games are also available on RDS.
Other highlights include:
• The Canadian Football Hall of Fame Game, featuring the Lions at Calgary, at 7:00pm ET / 4:00pm PT on Saturday, September 17.
• Scotiabank Touchdown Atlantic II in Moncton, New Brunswick, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats “hosting” the Calgary Stampeders at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT on Sunday, September 25.
• The first ever event in the completely refurbished BC Place Stadium in Vancouver on Friday September 30 at 10:30pm ET / 7:30pm PT, featuring the Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos playing under the facility’s fabulous new retractable roof.
• An exciting slate of games on Thanksgiving Weekend, including a doubleheader on the holiday Monday featuring the Argos in Montreal and the Riders visiting Edmonton.
Scotiabank Labour Day Weekend this year features two traditional match-ups and two emerging rivalries. The Bombers visit Saskatchewan and Edmonton plays in Calgary. Hamilton, who finished second to Montreal in the East the past two seasons, hosts the Alouettes. And the Argos host the Lions.
“While these are all compelling match-ups, there’s no doubt we would have loved to see the Argos face their traditional Labour Day foes in Hamilton,” Cohon said.
“The fact is a shortage of available dates for the Argos at Rogers Centre, which also has to accommodate Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays and some major concerts, made that virtually impossible. To have the Argos on the road on Labour Day Weekend would have meant they would play away from home six of the first nine weeks of the season, and that simply wouldn’t do justice to the competitive balance and fairness we strive to achieve. This change achieves the best possible home schedule for the Argos under the circumstances.”
The league’s schedule goes through several drafts as its’ makers work to take into account several factors, including the input from fans over the years, franchises’ commercial preferences, the need for competitive balance and fairness, the CFL’s partnership with TSN, and the availability of venues.
“We’re confident our 2011 schedule will deliver what our wonderful fans deserve: Canadian football at its most exciting, players who are as accessible as they are athletic, prices that are affordable for families, and an authenticity that can only come with a century of tradition,” Cohon said.
“These are the things that make our league uniquely ours, and these are the things we look forward to sharing again as Canadians, in just a few months.”