In a week where many BC Lions and CFL fans are enjoying some Grey Cup nostalgia, we got a nice glimpse of the future with Friday’s release of the 2021 CFL schedule. And while the natural reaction might be to remain cautious with all of our optimism in wake of the latest COVID numbers in our province, the fact we have some games to look forward to is a nice way to wind down what has been a crazy and unprecedented year in history.
From a Lions perspective, there are a few intriguing dates on the 2021 menu. Here we will provide a deeper dive into some of the key things to note for our 2021 schedule. And for those holding out hope that we will be able to welcome fans through the BC Place doors net June, all it takes is $10 to reserve your spot! Place your deposit on 10-game season tickets HERE!
Heavy Dose Of The West
With safety at the top of mind as we head into playing games in the pandemic world, the CFL has taken precautions by reducing the number of lengthy road trips in 2021. This results in 12 of 18 regular season games against West Division opponents and two visits to BC Place from both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders. The Lions will then make two visits to both Winnipeg and Edmonton in 2021.
Playing only six games against the East means the Lions won’t host Hamilton or visit Toronto next season. Typically, there would be a home and home series against every Eastern Club, two games each against two Western opponents while three each against the other two division rivals. Look, we can’t sugar coat it: the Lions went winless, 0-10, against division rivals in 2019. Bring on the extra matchups!
Autumn Home Stretch
Although four of the squad’s eight games after Labour Day will be away from home, Mike Reilly and company should get a big boost with a four-week stretch that begins in late September. The Lions will play three consecutive home games with a bye week sandwiched in between. After playing host to the Edmonton Football team on September 24th, they will welcome in Saskatchewan for a second time on October 1st and then following the final bye of 2021, play host to the defending Winnipeg Blue Bombers to close out the home schedule on October 16th.
This home stretch should give the squad a big advantage in the push to the playoffs and 108th Grey Cup in Hamilton. And if fans are permitted to safely be at BC Place, it will be all the more exciting! The Lions then close out the regular season by visiting the Tiger-Cats on Friday, October 22nd followed by Rick Campbell’s return to Ottawa exactly one week later.
Early Road Gauntlet
The flip side of being at home throughout much of September and October means the team must take care of business early on the road. 2021 begins with back-t0-back visits to Alberta: Calgary on June 12th and Edmonton on June 18th. The Lions also travel to Montreal( July 3rd), Winnipeg twice (July 30th and August 26th) and Edmonton one more time (August 6th) before Labour Day comes calling. One thing we know for sure is, this 2021 Lions team will be battle-tested once the true push to the playoffs begins in September. Holding serve in the early weeks will only increase the chances of the Lions playing a home playoff game in November.
More 2021 Schedule Nuggets
This will be the second time in three seasons Montreal will be here for the Lions’ home opener. The 2018 game was a 22-10 Lions win to kick off Wally Buono’s farewell season as head coach. The Lions and Alouettes will meet for a rematch in Montreal the following week, the Leos’ only set of back-to-backs against the same opponent in 2021. The most recent time we battled Montreal in a home and home series was the 2015 season where the road team won each contest.
How about this historical nugget? When it comes to the Lions playing three straight in the regular season at home, you have to go all the way back to 1964- the club’s first Grey Cup championship year- to find the last time it happened. It also occurred in 1961 and the inaugural season of 1954.
Campbell’s first game against the REDBLACKS is set for Saturday, September 11th at BC Place. He served as head coach in Ottawa from 2014-2019, winning a Grey Cup in the nation’s capital in year three while also advancing to the big game in 2015 and 2018.
2021 will mark the first time the Lions close out a regular season on the road since 2009 and it will be the first time since 2006 the regular season will end in October.
The club’s 2021 bye weeks are fairly evenly distributed: weeks 7, 13 and 18.