Hamilton Tiger-Cats ‘closer to a packed house’ for opener with Ontario entering Step 3

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Published July 9, 2021 at 10:02 pm

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will open their training camp behind closed doors on Saturday, but there is reason for optimism about the club having a full-ish house for their CFL home opener.

Step 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan, which takes effect on July 16, will allow for 75 per cent spectator capacity outdoors or a maximum of 15,000 people. Timing might be on the Tiger-Cats’ side attendance-wise, since they have the latest home opener of any of the three pro football teams in Ontario. Their home opener is actually their fourth game of the season — the Sept. 6 Labour Day Classic against the archrival Toronto Argonauts.

The game is typically the hottest ticket in town. In 2019, the Tiger-Cats packed 25,093 into Tim Hortons Field with standing-room seats, which is almost 2,000 above the 23,218-seat capacity.

The Tiger-Cats are giving priority to season-ticket holders in the event that seating capacity remains limited in two months’ time.

For the time being, the Tiger-Cats are holding training camp in their home stadium while putting up players in a hotel. In normal circumstances, the team trained at McMaster University’s Ron Joyce Stadium and players stayed in the student residences at Mac.

The CFL’s health and safety protocols means that training camp practices are currently closed to the public. Tweet from the Argonauts and Redblacks said that leaguewide policy could be revisited in a week’s time. 

Toronto has an Aug. 21 home opener against Winnipeg, and the Ottawa Redblacks’ first home date is Aug. 28 against the British Columbia Lions.

The Tiger-Cats’ three August away games prior to Labour Day are a 2019 Grey Cup rematch at Winnipeg (Aug. 5), a matchup against the Saskatchewan Roughridgers (Aug. 14) and a divisional contest against the Montreal Alouettes (Aug. 27).

The league has pared back to a 14-game regular season with no exhibition games. The Tiger-Cats, of course, host the Grey Cup on Dec. 12, which will mark the first time the championship game has been played in the city since 1996.

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