Riders’ president Craig Reynolds admits team has ‘fallen short of expectations,’ poor play at home is impacting ticket sales

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders are teetering on the brink of a lost season and the man in charge is beginning to voice his displeasure.

Speaking to 980 CJME’s Britton Gray on Thursday, Riders’ president and CEO Craig Reynolds made no attempt to avoid the fact that a 6-10 record in a year in which Regina is slated to host the Grey Cup simply isn’t good enough.

“There’s expectations this year when you host the Grey Cup. As of now, we’ve fallen short of those expectations and we’re disappointed in that and frustrated with that,” Reynolds said.

Saskatchewan has won just two of their last eleven games and has quickly lost its grip on the crossover playoff spot. Following last week’s 18-14 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the team no longer controls their own playoff destiny and could be eliminated even if they win out the rest of the way.

For Reynolds, that has impacted the financial side of the business as well. He deems the team’s five straight losses at Mosaic Stadium to be “one of the more disappointing parts of the season” and while the Riders still sit second in the league with an average crowd of 27,461, that number is down more than a thousand from last year’s pandemic season.

Crowds of over 30,000 now appear to be the exception, rather than the rule in Riderville and the team is on pace to relinquish their claim to the attendance crown for the first time since 2015. That’s a concerning trend, even if the president attempts to downplay it.

“Have we seen some impact (on ticket sales)? Yes we have, for sure. But the crowd we have coming up on Saturday is looking consistent with what we’ve seen this year,” Reynolds noted. “There are lots of factors going on, but whenever you lose home games, it’s not good.”

With the Riders currently enjoying their final bye week of the season, it seems as if the team has entered the calm before the storm. Missing the playoffs could result in massive changes to the organization, with general manager Jeremy O’Day and head coach Craig Dickenson both sitting on the hot seat. Quarterback Cody Fajardo is also on an expiring contract and could be playing his final games in green and white, with rumours about Bo Levi Mitchell swirling league-wide.

Still, a glimmer of hope remains for the ailing team. Should Hamilton fumble any of their final trio of games, Saskatchewan can still swoop into a playoff spot with a pair of upsets over the Calgary Stampeders.

An unlikely playoff run could salve many wounds, both organizationally and with the fan base, a fact that Reynolds hopes players and staff don’t overlook.

“The season is not over yet and we’ve got two big games,” he said.

“We’ve got to win them, and we no longer control our own destiny, but the season is not over and the focus right now is on the next game and doing what we can to win that football game and put us in a position to get into playoffs.”