Fans that have been waiting for the Canadian Football League’s schedule to be released will have to wait a little longer.
According to Jamie Dykstra, the league’s director of communications and broadcast, a perfect storm of scheduling snafus has the league unsure exactly of when its 2013 schedule will be released. The league is hopeful it will release its schedule next week, but Dykstra could not set a specific date.
“I think every year presents its own challenges and they’re all unique, but there are consistent factors that go into a schedule, too,” Dykstra said. “So, (things like) competitive balance, stadium availability, fan preference, TV schedule and team preference.”
A standard hurdle for the league to hop every season is co-ordinating the Toronto Argonauts’ schedule with Rogers Centre in Toronto, which houses Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays and numerous other events through the year.
“I don’t know this by fact, but it seems like that building is getting busier with more concert bookings and whatnot,” Dykstra said. “Then this year there’s more optimism, too, with playoffs for the Jays, realistic optimism, so that’s got to be taken into consideration as well.”
BC Place in Vancouver also poses similar scheduling issues, with its Major League Soccer team and housing other events throughout the year.
If you head down King’s Highway from Toronto to Hamilton, and concurrently in Guelph, Ont., where the Tiger-Cats will relocate next year as their new stadium is built, there lies another set of problems.
“This year there are additional moving parts and the ironic thing, the good thing is one of them comes from success. Hamilton is moving into a brand new facility this year, so this year they’re playing at Guelph where the Guelph Gryphons also play,” Dykstra said.
“When (the Tiger-Cats) played at Ivor Wynne Stadium, they had far more schedule control over dates that they could play on. That’s certainly one factor.”
CBC Calgary reporter Devin Heroux said on Twitter Saturday that he’d spoken with the CFL’s head of officiating, Tom Higgins, who had told him that there were lighting issues at Guelph University’s Alumni Stadium. The lights, he said, weren’t good enough for high definition TV and, as a result, the league was forced to draw up a schedule of daytime games for the Tiger-Cats this year.
Dykstra couldn’t confirm that, but did say there were other issues holding up the schedule, one of them being the potential return of a Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton, N.B.
“We know that the fans are there, we know that fan base is there and we’re certainly interested in bringing a game back there this year,” he said. “But we still have a little more work to do on that. We hope as part of the (schedule) announcement, there will be an announcement there as well.”
Playing out of a temporary home already, the Tiger-Cats would be a likely participant in this year’s Touchdown Atlantic game. It would be the only ‘home’ game they would play away from Guelph this year, however.
Beyond the scheduling conflicts in Toronto, Hamilton/Guelph and Vancouver, Dykstra noted that televising every game without overlap requires co-ordination with rights-holder TSN. There are also tweaks to the schedules for teams that share venues with Canadian university squads (Calgary, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Montreal).
All of this to say that a schedule is coming, but no one is saying when, exactly.
“It’s one of those things where you hate to put a date on it,” Dykstra said. “One small change can have a large impact on the schedule. It is progressing and we do expect it out soon.”
The league has released its schedule no later than Feb. 28 in the last five years.