Published on February 5, 2011 11:48 AM by dbo.
Update: The schedule is now released.
For months visitors have been searching for the 2011 CFL schedule or the date when it will be released. They end up on the FAQ or schedules page, which satisfied all before February 1. Now, with the schedule release date past last year’s release date of Feb. 1, the questions are mounting. When will the 2011 schedule be released? Answers to this and other questions do not have a simple answer.
When will the 2011 schedule be released? I don’t know, but very likely in February. Will the 2011 schedule be released? Yes. Why is the 2011 schedule late? I think it is still up for debate whether the release is “late”, but there are factors which are likely impacting the schedule release.
First, a return to Moncton for additional neutral-site game(s) in 2011 as part of a multi-year agreement is expected. As noted in December, negotiations have been underway but the political interest beyond last year’s one game is weak. With developments in Hamilton, an agreement in Moncton has become more important. The logistics and costs to make it work must be solid before both sides can come to an agreement.
Second, selecting the BC Lions 2011 dates is complicated by the fact that they do not know when BC Place Stadium will be ready to play in. While they have a fallback location in Empire Field to play in and will play part of their season in, they will want to load their schedule so as many games as possible can be in BC Place. A couple week delay may allow them a better idea of the stadium renovation progress and guarantees of a ready date. Update: PavCo now says the stadium will be ready by Sept. 30, weather and other factors permitting.
Over the next five years, I expect the schedule to follow a later release date. Even if a multi-year, multi-game commitment with Moncton is agreed to this year, there are still major complications in schedule making the next five years. This year has been explained while 2012 may be impacted by the availability of the new Winnipeg Stadium. The 2013 schedule will have to accommodate Hamilton’s displacement from Ivor Wynne Stadium and the addition of the Ottawa franchise in their new stadium, which may face construction delays. The 2014 season may be impacted by Ivor Wynne construction and test Pan-Am events while the 2015 season will be impacted by the 2015 Toronto Pan-Am games. Beyond 2015, if Regina’s new stadium comes to fruition, the schedule maker may have that to deal with.
So I wait patiently. I realize that many want to plan vacations, travel plans, ticket purchases and other events and would like the schedule to do so, but it will be released soon. I don’t expect the CFL to shift towards a March or April schedule release. This would not work with their partners and the progress they’ve made on an early release date. You may want to march on the CFL offices and demand commissioner Cohon’s resignation, but that won’t speed things along. Asking for the date it will be released is fruitless, as the date isn’t known, like Feb. 22, just like you can’t predict when any negotiation will be complete. They CFL will have internal deadlines to speed negotiations, but the schedule will only be released when it is complete and agreed to by all parties.