The Saskatchewan Roughriders have been doing some of their best blocking in years over the last few weeks by reportedly trying to keep the NFL from coming to town.
It was a few weeks ago we learned that the Las Vegas Raiders of Oakland could be playing a pre-season game at Mosaic Stadium against the ever popular Green Bay Packers.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly, but then the rumblings began: the province’s most popular team wasn’t keen on the idea. Those rumbling boiled over this week when Rawlco Radio talk show host John Gormley reported that the Riders were in-fact the driving force behind keeping this game from happening.
Now, the chances of an NFL game coming to the Queen City are officially done.
In a recent release, the Riders said they weren’t against the game but didn’t think there wasn’t enough time between that game and their game against Ottawa on Aug. 24 to properly prepare the venue.
There’s no doubt that less than 24 hours can be a quick turnaround but it’s not impossible. It’s understandable that people have their concerns about Evraz Place/REAL staff getting it done. Converting a football field to a football field shouldn’t be overly difficult and Evraz Place CEO Tim Reid believed they could do it.
Evraz CEO Tim Reid to @saskafternoon 'The 24 hour thing is tight but I think with labour and people you can do just about anything'
— Jamie Nye (@jamienye) March 27, 2019
Yes, that’s simplifying it a bit but moving goal posts and painting isn’t the same as building up and tearing down massive concert stages, for example.
Ironically, converting the field would have been easier had the Riders (and other stadium partners) not made another short sighted decision in stitching lines and logos into the turf instead of just painting them on like most multi-use but football heavy stadiums do these days. A quick wipe and re-paint and they’d be good to go. Instead, workers have to waste time painting lines and logos with the wrong shade of green, leaving the field looking horrible like during the 2013 Grey Cup, last year’s West semifinal and a recent soccer friendly and then removing it.
Some have suggested the Riders wouldn’t want to move their walkthrough the day before the game against Ottawa. This is a league that’s often had road teams walkthrough in hotel conference rooms. The U of R practice field or Leibel Field would work just fine.
Then there’s the reasons Rod Pedersen gave CJOB. It basically comes down to money.
The former play-by-play guy says the Riders believe that money spent on that game would be money not spent on them. Really? A large majority of people at every game have already paid for their tickets for the season. On top of that, an NFL game would attract a different crowd. A football fan who perhaps isn’t into the CFL, a fan of either team from outside of Regina, people looking to experience an NFL game, etc… Overall, it’s hard to believe the Riders would have been hurt financially by this.
If they wanted a cut (or more if it), then they should have built their own stadium or tried to host the event themselves.
Pedersen also cites the team not wanting to give up their stadium and not wanting their field tinkered, which are things that happen all the time.
The whole thing is quite a shame. It would have been a wonderful worldwide showcase for a first-class facility.. Imagine if Aaron Rodgers or Antonio Brown go on the record talking about the stadium? That’s worth more than money can buy. Not to mention the benefits for the city and local businesses.
When the new Mosaic Stadium was being built, expectations were that it would help our city and province attract more world-class events. At the time, I don’t think anyone would have ever thought of the NFL coming to town. This isn’t a commentary on the level of football, but business and exposure, to be clear. No matter how you add it up, the NFL is a behemoth.
This was a massive opportunity that’s been fumbled away.