Fans of the BC Lions will enjoy warm summer nights at the intimate confines of Empire Field before returning to renovated BC Place this fall as the Canadian Football League announced its 2011 schedule this morning.
The Leos will begin their 58th season with a road game against the reigning Grey Cup champions in Montreal on Thursday, June 30th before opening their 2011 home schedule on Friday, July 8th against the Calgary Stampeders.
The rest of the Lions home schedule includes a total of four Friday night tilts and five Saturday match-ups as the club also prepares to host the 99th Grey Cup on Sunday, November 27th.
“We’re extremely pleased with our 2011 schedule,” said Lions president and CEO Dennis Skulsky. “It’s the best of both worlds for our fans as we play outdoors at Empire Field through the summer and then move back into BC Place, the best stadium in Canada, for our games in the fall.”
In fact, the Lions will play four of their final six games in BC Place with three of those games coming against West Division opponents.
The Edmonton Eskimos will be the Lions first opponent to play under the retractable roof of BC Place on Friday, September 30th and make a return trip on Saturday, October 29th. In addition to hosting Calgary on July 8th, the Stamps will come calling on Saturday, October 8th. The Saskatchewan Roughriders make their only regular season visit on Friday, August 5th.
“I am very satisfied with the overall schedule,” said Lions GM and head coach Wally Buono. “From a player and coach standpoint, we don’t have many short weeks which will help our preparation and the opportunity to play in two unique venues is exciting.”
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be the first East Division opponent to make the trek west as they take on the Lions on Friday, July 22nd. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers visit on Saturday, August 13th while the Toronto Argonauts will close out the Empire Field portion of the home schedule with an afternoon match-up on Saturday, September 10th. The Montreal Alouettes close out the 2011 regular season with tilt on Saturday, November 5th.
During the pre-season, the Lions travel to Calgary to face the Stamps on Wednesday, June 15th and take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at home on Wednesday, June 22nd.