EDMONTON - Just as soon as the new roof gets completed at B.C. Place, the B.C. Lions hope to consistently blow it off for their fans this season.
With a new crown set to be in place on the indoor stadium in time to host the CFL’s 99th edition of the Grey Cup championship in November, the Lions hope to add the oversized goblet as they make a hometown run for the franchise’s sixth title.
“We have our Best of Both Worlds season coming up,” said Lions CEO Dennis Skulsky, whose club is scheduled to play six regular-season games at the reincarnated Empire Field before going under the new, $850-million retractable roof for their final four home tilts. “The big question these days is the stadium and will it be ready? I can tell you that, yes, it will be ready.
“We’re excited to be headed back into what will become one of the best stadiums in North America.”
Whether or not the Lions will be one of the best teams will largely depend on how quarterback Travis Lulay continues to handle the starting job he earned following the release of Casey Printers last season.
“Travis Lulay, I believe and I think everybody saw, brought this football club a long way last year and we were very fortunate to extend his contract so that he would be here through 2012,” said Lions head coach and general manager Wally Buono.
Lulay heads into his third CFL season with seven-year veteran Jarious Jackson as his backup.
“I know as far as support and his role, he’s going to be very effective for us,” said Buono, whose top job in training camp will be replacing standout receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, who went to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
Another drastic hit to the roster came when the club released impressive kick-returner Yonus Davis after drug charges surfaced in California.
“Obviously, the unfortunate circumstances with Yonus Davis made us have to go in another direction,” Buono said. “We are targeting the same kind of player, a running back-returner who hopefully can bring the same production and excitement to our football team.
“Training camp is going to prove all that for us and hopefully when we line up against the Alouettes on June 30, we will have a good handle on those spots.”
Free agency allowed the Lions to focus on improving along the offensive and defensive line with left tackle Ben Archibald and defensive tackle Eric Taylor.
“We were really fortunate to find Ben Archibald, who will be an anchor at left tackle, which gives us the ability to move Jovan (Olafioye) over to right tackle, which I think makes us a lot more physical and should improve our offensive line,” said Buono. “Eric Taylor is a guy that’s going to fit in with what we do and I think he’s going to be a tremendous addition to the very strong linebacking corps that we have.”
Look for the Lions to employ more three-man fronts on defence to allow their linebackers to cut down on angles and provide more coverage downfield.
The Lions are in Dallas, Texas, this weekend for their final free-agent training camp.