The Canadian Football League released its 2016 schedule on Thursday and fans of the BC Lions have been given more consistent start times this season.
Following a year in which the Lions were forced to experiment with some Thursday night games and a weird schedule thanks to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Lions will play at home on Saturday five times, on Friday three times and have just one Thursday night game on their schedule. All games are a 7:00pm with the exception of the final game of the season, a 4:00pm season closer against the Riders.
You’re never going to please everyone with the schedule, but the Lions took a hit attendance wise last season, and not just for their play on the field. With traffic getting increasingly worse in Vancouver, weeknight games are proving to be too much bother for people who drive in from the Fraser Valley and Surrey. Saturday night games should help for people to make better arrangements to attend live and also allow a more flexible schedule for people on Vancouver Island and other areas of BC.
“We know our fans prefer weekend games with evening start times and I believe we went a long way to achieve that this year,” said Lions president and CEO Dennis Skulsky said in a club released statement. “Five of our home games come after Labour Day and three of those fall on Saturdays which means BC Place is going to provide us with a tremendous home field advantage down the stretch when it matters most.”
GM and head coach Wally Buono likes what he sees on the football operations side as well.
“From a football perspective, I’m very pleased with the schedule. Our bye weeks come at optimal times during the year, we finish with three of four games at home and a couple of back-to-backs at the end of the season are a benefit to the coaching staff as well.”
Here are a few highlights of the Lions 2016 schedule.
- June 17th: First home pre-season game versus Calgary
- June 25th: Season/Home Opener versus Calgary
- The Lions don’t see the defending Grey Cup Champion Edmonton Eskimos at home until October 22nd. They only visit Vancouver once, and the Lions only play them twice all season.
- The Saskatchewan Roughriders don’t arrive at BC Place until the final game of the regular season on November 5th, a week after the Lions and Riders will play the last regular season game at Mosaic Stadium.
- The Lions will go over a month without a home game following a July 7th game against the Argos. the Leos won’t return home until August 13th when they take on Hamilton at BC Place Stadium.
- The Lions two byes come in Weeks 5 and 13, which are nice spaced out to allow the club a chance to heal their bumps and bruises.
- Five of the Lions nine home games are after Labour Day.
2016 BC Lions Schedule:
You can view the full CFL schedule here.
Next up for the Lions, the CFL Canadian College draft and the start of their U.S. free agent camps where they will hope to fill needs and depth on the roster heading into Kamloops for the start of training camp at the end of May.
The Lions acquired Canadian offensive lineman Tim O’Neill from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this week in exchange for a 5th round pick in this year’s draft. Originally drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos, the 36 year-old has seen time with Calgary and the Ticats over a 9-year career and will be slotted into the depth chart to compete and provide much-needed experience at centre.
Following the trade, the team released C Jason Foster, the international that occupied the position last season. With Lions moving away from Andrew Harris in the backfield, it was necessary for the club to get more ‘National’ up front to adjust for the ratio implications of that move.