It’s time for the Riders to send a message

It’s not every day a 100-plus year-old franchise gets to officially open a brand new stadium, but that’s exactly what the Saskatchewan Roughriders will do on Canada Day when they welcome their rivals to the east, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

With a new home, comes the rare opportunity to hit the reset button and create a brand new experience, atmosphere and attitude. While new traditions at the new digs should develop over time, the Riders and their fans have the unique chance to send a message to the rest of the CFL.

There’s no question that Taylor Field was, for much of it’s existence, a difficult place to play for many reasons. However, over the last few years, as the Riders slumped, so did their record at home. Over the last two seasons, the green and white have won just five of their 18 home games. Often the difference between a good team and a bad one is how they play at home. The Stampeders didn’t lose a single game at McMahon stadium last year. Going undefeated at home generally isn’t realistic but a good team wins more often than it loses at home in football.

As the Riders open a new stadium, the team has a chance to erase the last two and a half seasons and set at new tone for the franchise on home turf by, at the very least, making life very difficult for Winnipeg on Saturday. The result of the game won’t define what it’s like to play at the new park on Elphinstone but it could help set the tone for the team at home this season.

The fans can play their part in this as well by being as loud as ever.

A new era means being open to new things. Quarterback Kevin Glenn hinted that there could be some scoreboard messages coming to encourage the fans to either get loud and presumably, be quiet. These sorts of things have often angered a section of the fan base in the past, especially the prompt to keep it down. Having stood on the sidelines late in games in the past, I can tell you it’s been pretty loud with the team on offence at times. The new stadium will only amplify that noise. There’s nothing wrong with a little encouragement one way or the other. It doesn’t make the fan base any worse or less educated. 30-thousand plus people aren’t always thinking the same thing. “Offence at work” signs appear on scoreboards in the NFL quite often, even in football hotbeds. How often did Peyton Manning signal for the home fans to be quiet during this career? More than anyone can count. Professionals should be good enough to operate in noise, even at home, but why not give your team every advantage possible?

The man in charge of all things football Chris Jones may have said this week that it doesn’t matter where they play. In theory, that’s true. His job is to worry about winning football games no matter where they are played. That said, for this franchise to turn things around on the field, it all starts at home. If they don’t, then it could be another long year in Riderville.

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