The Canadian Football League has finally put their 2013 schedule in their fans’ hands.
And Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans, take note: the new Investors Group Field will first be christened by a preseason game on June 12th vs. the Grey-Cup champion Toronto Argonauts and also play host to the club’s first real game of the season -- their home opener June 27th vs. the Montreal Alouettes.
The Bombers will play three of their first five games at home, including consecutive dates with the Argos on July 19th and Calgary Stampeders on July 26th.
"It’s a good schedule for the fans," said Bomber head coach Tim Burke. "There’s a lot of good dates and we know attendance will be good because it works around the schedule people keep in the summer and fall.
"And from our perspective as a team, it’s going to be tough. There are five back-to-back matchups (against the same team) and three are consecutive. We’re going to have to ask our team to be mentally tough and separate the two contests from each other from a psychological point of view.
"But they also lessened the number of short weeks we had in the original draft, so that was good."
The schedule features the traditional back-to-back dates with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, with the Labour Day Classic slated for Sept. 1st in Regina and the Banjo Bowl a week later here in Winnipeg. The other four back-to-back meetings include: Montreal on June 27/July 4; Hamilton on Aug 16/24; Edmonton on Sept. 14/20 and Toronto on Oct. 19/24.
As well, there is also a stretch in October where the club plays three games over an 11 day stretch -- Oct. 14th at Montreal and then the back-to-back with the Argos on Oct. 19th and 24th.
"You have to adapt to whatever your schedule is," said Burke. "We’re not the only team with challenges. Toronto has a stretch where they play seven away games over an eight-game stretch.
"The one advantage in Winnipeg is our crowd. I definitely think we have a home-field advantage because of our crowd and it will interesting because of the way the new stadium is designed it should be pretty loud – even louder than Canad Inns Stadium was."
The playoffs open on Nov. 10th with the 101st Grey Cup in Regina going on Sunday, Nov. 24th.