The calendar has flipped to a new year and that means people all over the world are thinking about changes they would like to make to themselves in 2018. With another chance at a fresh start, there are a few things the Riders could do differently in the new year to help both the fans and the team.
We’ll start with the fans.
Throw your biggest supporters a bone
It’s time the Riders start treating their season ticket holders a little better. Sure, the tickets will likely sell in the province no matter what and most are happy just to have a guaranteed seat to every home game every year. However, that seat has been getting more expensive over time and the perks for season ticket holders haven’t really increased with them. There is the Rider Reward program, but that’s still fairly limited and involves some work. Compare that to the laundry list of things Esks fans get. It’s basically night and day. Yes, the economics and supply are very different. There’s no question. Not offering more perks isn’t likely to change the Riders ability to sell tickets but making your customers feel appreciated will go along way in keeping them. Which is important as sports teams across the continent are facing increasing challenges getting butts in seats.
Football and beer go together like well, football and beer. I’m making another call to allow some local craft brewers into the stadium. Not just because I’m a full-fledged beer snob, but because some changes in the local industry may make it possible. A year ago, the question facing local brewers was whether they can get tap lines or not. That is no longer an issue. A number of breweries in the province have upgraded their facilities to include canning lines. Having a few bins throughout the stadium with cans of local suds surely can’t be too much to ask. Along the lines of keeping fans happy to make sure they keep buying tickets, offering a better variety of everything can help. Overall, there are some tweaks to the game day experience that will hopefully be made after a year in the team’s new home.
Now, to the field:
Find a QB
This one is pretty obvious. If Kevin Glenn is still the Riders starting pivot by the end of 2018 then something is wrong. Is Brandon Bridge the guy? Will James Franklin end up in play? What about Marquise Williams? Someone else? All options need to be exhausted.
Since losing Keith Shologan and Zack Evans in the Redblacks expansion draft (that was ahead of the 2014 season, in case you forgot) the Riders have had a revolving door at defensive tackle. The team seems pretty set on the wings, now it’s time to figure out what is going on in the middle and finally get that right.
In 2017, the Riders more or less figured out their starting Canadians. That group of seven is pretty good. Behind them? That’s where things get questionable. As of today, Chris Jones’ best draft selections remain in the NFL. The guys that have made their way to Saskatchewan have underwhelmed. It’s time to find some starters and quality backups if this team wants to sustain success long term.
2017 was pretty good for the Riders, their best year since 2013 in fact. Now it’s time for the green and white to build off it and take another step forward in 2018.