Schedule thrills Argos

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

The schedule at home may be better than last year, but it's going to be another tough season for the Argos.

The release yesterday of the 2005 Canadian Football League schedule -- the one that seemed to take forever to draft because of the Argos' attempts to acquire premium home dates -- indicated one of those good-news, bad-news scenarios.

The good news, at least for the fans, is that the Argos will play three of nine games at the newly named Rogers Centre on a Saturday, two games on holiday Mondays, once on Friday and the remaining three on Thursdays. That puts to rest those awful early week games of last year.

"I'm thrilled with the home schedule," said Argos president Keith Pelley, who worked hard to acquire the dates. "I could not be happier. It's a monumental improvement. Last year we were able to double our attendance. With this schedule we've set our goals so much higher because it is so much more attractive than last year. The Jays made it happen."

The Blue Jays' purchase of the SkyDome last month from Sportsco gave the Argos a better working relationship with which to set up a schedule of overall dates, in particular ones at home. Last year, in the first year of the regime of owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon, the Argos were away from home for almost a six-week period. This year, the longest stretch between home games is three weeks.

TUSSLES WITH TICATS

One impressive feature is back-to-back games against Hamilton, starting with the annual Labour Day tilt in Hamilton followed by a rematch five days later at home.

That five-day bridge, unfortunately, is not the only one of its kind.

There's one instance in August when the Argos play in Edmonton followed by a home game five days later against Calgary, and another occasion in October when the Argos play in Montreal, followed five days later by a game at home against Hamilton. There's one period of two games four days apart, beginning with a road game in Montreal on July 28 and a home game against Winnipeg on Aug. 1. There are five instances of two games separated by six days.

After opening at home against B.C. in a Grey Cup rematch on June 25, the Argos play their next five games in a 32-day stretch.

TRADE TALKS ONGOING

The Ottawa Renegades have tabled an offer for defensive end Eric England that includes the second overall pick in this year's Canadian draft and a negotiation-list player.

"There is no trade as of yet, it doesn't mean it ain't going to happen," Argos vice-president of football operations Adam Rita said.

England, who re-signed with the Argos in advance of testing the free-agent market on Feb. 16, declined comment when contacted.

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'05 ARGOS SCHEDULE

The 2005 schedule for the Grey Cup champion Argos (* -- neutral-site game at Halifax):

PRE-SEASON

WK DATE OPPONENT TIME TV

A Sat. June 11 vs. Hamilton* 7 p.m. TSN

B Fri. June 17 at Hamilton 7 p.m. --

REGULAR SEASON

WK DATE OPPONENT TIME TV

1 Sat. June 25 vs. B.C. 7 p.m. CBC

2 Fri. July 1 at Calgary 9 p.m. TSN

3 Sat. July 9 vs. Sask. 7 p.m. CBC

4 Fri. July 15 at B.C. 10 p.m. --

5 Bye week

6 Thurs. July 28 at Montreal 7:30 p.m. TSN

7 Mon. Aug. 1 vs. Winnipeg 4 p.m. TSN

8 Bye week

9 Fri. Aug. 12 vs. Montreal 7 p.m. TSN

10 Sat. Aug. 20 at Edmonton 9 p.m. CBC

11Thurs. Aug. 25 vs. Calgary 7:30 p.m. TSN

12 Mon. Sept. 5 at Hamilton 5:45 p.m. CBC

13 Sat. Sept. 10 vs. Hamilton 3 p.m. CBC

14 Bye week

15 Fri. Sept. 23 at Sask. 9 p.m. TSN

16 Thurs. Sept. 29 vs. Ottawa 7:30 p.m. TSN

17 Mon. Oct. 10 vs. Edmonton 1 p.m. CBC

18 Sun. Oct. 16 at Winnipeg 4 p.m. TSN

19 Sat. Oct. 22 at Montreal 3 p.m. CBC

20 Thurs. Oct. 27 vs. Hamilton 7:30 p.m. TSN

21 Sat. Nov. 5 at Ottawa 3 p.m. CBC


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