The Toronto Argonauts say disappointed Saskatchewan Roughriders fans should hold on to their Grey Cup tickets and back the East Division champions during Sunday’s CFL final in Regina.
“I’m hoping the local fans around here aren’t selling their tickets to everybody in Winnipeg,” Argos coach Ryan Dinwiddie said during a news conference Wednesday.
“We understand that’s probably going to be the case.”
With the Bombers making the Grey Cup game after last Sunday’s win over the B.C. Lions, Dinwiddie said he expects many Winnipeg fans will make the roughly 575-kilometre trek west on the Trans-Canada Highway to Regina this week.
As of Wednesday, online ticket sites like Ticketmaster had seats available in every section of the stadium.
With that in mind, Dinwiddie is hopeful Saskatchewan fans will back the Double Blue.
“You would hope the Regina fans, if they go to the game, they are potentially going to be rooting for us.”
But the Argos coach said his team won’t get “caught up” by who is in the crowd.
On Wednesday morning, Dinwiddie led his team through their first practice at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium, with crowd noise pumped in over the stadium speakers.
“There is going to have to be silent cadence, potentially. We gotta practise that,” Dinwiddie said.
The Blue Bombers have enjoyed success at Mosaic, winning the first-ever game at the new stadium in 2017, along with playoff victories in 2018 and 2019.
But those past successes don’t matter come Sunday, said Bombers coach Mike O’Shea.
“I wouldn’t look at success at Mosaic, other than we had a good week of preparation and we plan to be successful wherever we are playing — be it a stadium, a parking lot, a backyard,” he said at Wednesday’s news conference.
O’Shea’s former star running back Andrew Harris, a Winnipeg product, now plays for the Argonauts.
Harris was part of those big playoff wins in Regina with Winnipeg and knows what it’s like to play in front of a hostile crowd.
He said he has friends in Regina who “seem to think it’s going to be an Argos fan base, because everyone hates the Bombers so much in Regina.”
“We’ll take all the support we can,” Harris said. “I’m imagining Winnipeg will have a big fan base. It’s going to be nuts in here regardless.”
Harris, 35, knows about the Grey Cup game and what it means. He has three rings, including consecutive wins with Winnipeg in 2019 and 2021 (there was no Grey Cup game in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“It’s probably one of the most beautiful stadiums in the league, in the heart of the Prairies, and we’re going to enjoy the festivities and the atmosphere for sure,” said Harris.
Blue Bombers receiver Nic Demski, who was drafted by the Roughriders and spent three years in Saskatchewan, said he’s looking forward to being back in a familiar setting.
“I know the football community out here is very passionate and they love football at this time of year,” said Demski.
He said given the relatively short drive between the two cities, he’s hoping to see a blue and gold wave heading into Regina.
“Hopefully we get some crowd in from Winnipeg this weekend.”
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