The Saskatchewan Roughriders are set to be the CFL’s first home team of 2017.
The Roughriders are to host CFL Week from Tuesday through Sunday. The event at Evraz Place is to attract coaches and management types from every CFL team, some of the league’s top players, top prospects for the 2017 Canadian draft, and fans from across the continent.
“It’s kind of an honour, to be honest with you, that (league officials) approached us and saw lots of value in hosting it here,” said Craig Reynolds, the Roughriders’ president and chief executive officer.
“It’s the first time they’ve done something like this where they’ve combined all these different events. They really were keen on making it a big deal and I think they recognize, with the fan support we have here, that it would be a big deal.”
Other cities in the league also have the wherewithal and the facilities to host CFL Week, but Reynolds believes Rider Nation tipped the scales in Saskatchewan’s favour — especially for the inaugural event.
That said, Roughriders fans likely won’t be the only ones taking in the various events this week.
“The demand obviously was there, because whenever we released tickets to the combine or whatever it was, they were snapped up right away,” Reynolds said.
“You’ll see a big Riders fan contingent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are fans from other teams. If you look at the slate of the players who are here, it’s a who’s who of the CFL.”
CFL Week will include league meetings, including get-togethers by the rules, competition, football operations, and player safety and wellness committees.
Players such as Rob Bagg, Kevin Glenn and Naaman Roosevelt of the Roughriders, Darian Durant of the Montreal Alouettes, Weston Dressler of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Bo Levi Mitchell of the Calgary Stampeders, Mike Reilly of the Edmonton Eskimos and Jonathon Jennings of the B.C. Lions are among those slated to be on hand during the week to interact with fans.
Patrons can take part in CFL trivia contests, a “You Make the Call” event with CFL officiating boss Glen Johnson, and numerous autograph sessions throughout the week.
The 2017 inductees into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame are to be announced at a gala Wednesday in Mosaic Stadium’s AGT Lounge — one of many rooms at the new facility that are to be used during the week.
The western regional combine for draft-eligible players is to take place Thursday in the Credit Union EventPlex. Several players are expected to move on from that combine to the national combine, which is set for Thursday through Saturday at the EventPlex.
That facility also is to play host to flag football clinics for girls teams and co-ed squads on Thursday and a passing showcase for Canada West university players on Saturday and Sunday.
Events also will be held in other buildings at Evraz Place and at hotels in the city.
As well, representatives of the league and its teams will be given tours of Mosaic Stadium as the Roughriders unveil their new digs.
“We’re showcasing (the stadium) for the league, the teams and national media and maybe for some folks who haven’t seen it or really appreciate what we’ve done here,” Reynolds said. “That’s really important.”