No blackout dates: CFL returning to balanced schedule in 2024

Photo courtesy: Thomas Skrlj/CFL

The CFL is returning to a balanced schedule in 2024, commissioner Randy Ambrosie confirmed during his annual State of the League address on Tuesday.

The league has played an unbalanced schedule since it returned to the field in 2021, prioritizing divisional matchups. Ambrosie admitted that this was a cost-saving measure after the league was forced to cancel the 2020 season.

“We made that change coming out of COVID,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure that we were feeling financially coming out of COVID but we’ve decided we’re going to go back to the balanced schedule format.”

The lack of a traditional schedule for the last two years has led to certain teams playing one another more frequently while having limited matchups with others. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts have met 12 times during the regular season since 2021, including four times in five weeks during the summer of 2022.

It wasn’t just the repeat matchups that garnered criticism as the unbalanced scheduling also led to some big-name stars never returning to their former homes for a regular season game. Bo Levi Mitchell didn’t play in Calgary this season after being dealt to the Ticats, while Andrew Harris had to wait until 2023 before he had the opportunity to return to Winnipeg after departing his hometown squad as a free agent following the 2021 season.

Fans were also deprived of a meaningful Grey Cup rematch this season as the Argos had already clinched first place in the East Division prior to their lone meeting with Winnipeg. With the league returning to a balanced schedule, each team should play at least one game in each CFL city in 2024, negating the possibility of missing out on key matchups.

For a full review of Ambrosie’s comments at Grey Cup week, please click here.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes will meet in the 110th Grey Cup on Sunday, Nov. 19 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 p.m. EST.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.