The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won’t be able to blame the schedule if they have another rough season in 2011.
The CFL revealed its 72-game schedule on Friday, and Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice has absolutely hardly any complaints about Winnipeg’s 18 matches on the slate.
“We’re very pleased with it,” LaPolice said.
The Blue and Gold open the season on the road against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Canada Day and will return home a week later for their home opener versus the Toronto Argonauts on Friday, July 8. That’s the first of five Friday home games for the Bombers, which the organization loves from a business standpoint.
“We believe our fans will really embrace our schedule with the emphasis it has on Friday night home games,” Bombers president Jim Bell said in a statement.
LaPolice, meanwhile, likes the itinerary because there is plenty of time between games and only one back-to-back series. There are only four days between their game in Toronto on July 23 and their home contest against B.C. on July 28, but every other break is long enough for the second-year Bomber boss.
The only other close call is back-to-back road matches against the Alouettes and Argos in late September that are separated by only five days, but the Bombers will be able to get home from Montreal on the same day as the game since it’s a 1 p.m. start local time.
“The first thing you look at it’s how many days between games,” LaPolice said. “Sometimes you have a lot of shorts week. Some of the previous schedules weren’t friendly. There’s one quick turnaround this year, but besides that I think it’s manageable.”
Based on the division rotation system, the Bombers will play the Argos four times this season and the Alouettes and Tiger-Cats three times. They get the defending Grey Cup champs at home twice but will travel to Ivor Wynne Stadium two times.
Winnipeg will actually play Toronto five times, as its home pre-season game on June 23 will be against the Boatmen.
The only back-to-back situation is the annual Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl against the arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders in early September.
Former Bomber defensive co-ordinator Kavis Reed, who left in December to become Edmonton’s new head coach, will return to Winnipeg with the Eskimos on Aug. 5.
And if the new Bomber stadium at the University of Manitoba is completed on time and ready for the 2012 season, Winnipeg’s clash with the Argos on Friday, Oct. 28, will be the last regular-season game at Canad Inns Stadium in its 59-year existence.
BOMBERS' 2011 SCHEDULE:
Thursday, June 16 at Montreal, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 23 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
Friday, July 1 at Hamilton 5 p.m.
Friday, July 8 vs. Toronto, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 14 vs. Calgary, 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 at Toronto, 3 p.m.
Thursday, July 28 vs. B.C., 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 5 vs. Edmonton, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 13 at B.C., 9 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 26 vs. Hamilton, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 4 at Saskatchewan, 3 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 11 vs. Saskatchewan, 3 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 18 at Montreal, noon
Saturday, Sept. 24 at Toronto, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 30 vs. Montreal, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7 at Hamilton, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15 at Edmonton, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 22 vs. Montreal, 2 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 28 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5 at Calgary, 3 p.m.