Gasson: Riders Grey Cup bid makes sense…just one thing stands in their way

It was only a matter of time before the Saskatchewan Roughriders threw their hat into the ring and attempt to host another Grey Cup.

The franchise is looking to follow up the uber-successful 2013 Grey Cup that not only saw the Riders win the biggest game in their 100-plus year history, but it was a smashing success off the field as well. You could argue that until Ottawa hosted last year’s festivities, it’s been a bit of a bumpy road for our country’s biggest game of the year.

Unlike 2013, this time around the Riders will have to formally bid and win in order to host the game again. Until recently, the league basically decided where the Grey Cup went and some side deals were made along the way in places like Vancouver and Toronto. Thankfully, all of that is done and the process is much more open.

So, why do the Riders want to host the Grey Cup? Well, beyond the money to be made, they feel it’s time to show off their shiny new stadium to the country.

Not too long after the doors opened at Mosaic Stadium, the talk began: when will the Riders host the Grey Cup again? There was talk about them possibly having interest at various times including as early as this year but more likely in 2019. This continued to go against what I had heard from a reliable source close to the team during the lead up to the move to the new stadium and their first year in it, that the Riders wanted to wait three years before trying to host the Grey Cup.

Three years from 2017? That would be 2020 and here we are.

The Riders have definitely been working on this bid for a while and there’s no doubt it’s a solid one. There’s plenty of very good reasons why the Grey Cup should come back to Saskatchewan in 2020. The game will sell out extremely fast, Evraz Place is an outstanding facility to host basically all of the Grey Cup parties under one roof, as they did in 2013. Spirit of Edmonton was the lone exception as they went somewhere else, as they normally do. There’s no question that the week would be a huge success.

Now, Regina does still have some issues when it comes to hosting such an event, most notably accommodations but from 2003 to 2013 things improved immensely on that front and have improved since 2013. The rise of services like Air BnB helps as well.

All of the numbers add up for the Riders hosting the 2020 Grey Cup, there’s just one thing that could stop them. A bid from the east, especially if it’s Hamilton.

We all know Hamilton hasn’t hosted a Grey Cup since 1996. Recent stadium litigation was the latest hold up for the Ticats, that’s all done now. With the big game being played in Edmonton and Calgary in back-to-back years it’s hard to see the league staying out west three years in a row if there was a legitimate bid on the table from someone in the east.

It feels like the league was hopeful that the Hamilton stadium situation would have been sorted out sooner. Instead, Calgary was more or less the only spot for the game in 2019. A stretch of Edmonton, Hamilton and Saskatchewan would have made a lot of sense.

We know the Riders will put on a show if they host in 2020, we’ll just have to see if that party is delayed.

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