Calgary Stampeders aim to pack stands for game with visiting Bombers

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It will be the biggest crowd of the season so far for what could be the CFL game of the year.

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The Calgary Stampeders (4-1) themselves are actively encouraging fans to show up for Saturday’s big showdown with the defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-0) at McMahon Stadium (5 p.m., TSN/770 CHQR).

And it looks like Stamps fans have answered the call.

Saturday night’s massive West Division game is on track to have more than 25,000 fans in the stands at McMahon Stadium, according to Stampeders senior director of business operations Alex Snell. It’s a big bump from the team’s previous two home games this season.

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“I think we have the best team in the CFL and that game against Winnipeg (two weeks ago) was probably the game of the year, and I would say that game on Saturday could also be the game of the year. . Snell said. “You’re going to see the two best teams go head-to-head, and it’s supposed to be beautiful. What could be better?

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“Attendance this year, of course, is not where we want it to be, but I would say every game is growing, and this one we’re probably expecting around 25,000.”

In a gate-oriented league like the CFL, attendance matters.

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell during practice Tuesday at McMahon Stadium.  The hope is that the stands behind him will be full when the CFL meets Saturday night with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  Al CHAREST / POSTMEDIA
Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell during practice Tuesday at McMahon Stadium. The hope is that the stands behind him will be full when the CFL meets Saturday night with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Al CHAREST / POSTMEDIA Al Charest/Postmedia

The Stampeders didn’t get the season ticket renewals they would have liked this offseason, which is partly the result of a canceled season due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and a shortened season last year.

They drew 21,139 fans for their season opener against the Montreal Alouettes in June, then 22,749 for their Week 3 game with the Edmonton Elks two weeks later. It should be noted that the Alouettes are not a traditional draw in Calgary and this game was played on a Thursday night, which is often a tough sell, while fans will have another chance to see the Elks in Calgary for the Labor Day Classic – always the biggest game of the year.

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But the projected crowd for Saturday’s game against the Bombers is certainly encouraging.

“Get over that Stampede hangover and show up to McMahon,” Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson said. “We have a departure at 5 am. I love the 5 o’clock departures. Even as a fan when I go to see the Flames play I love it because you watch good sports and you eat and when you come home you don’t feel like you’ve had a long , long, long night. I hope our fans step it up – I think they will.

“It’s a big game and there should be a good atmosphere. It should be a huge challenge. »

There are, no doubt, a few things working in the Stamps’ favor as they try to draw the biggest crowd possible this weekend.

For one, the game itself has the makings of a classic. The Bombers have won the last two Gray Cups but lost their last three regular season games at McMahon Stadium.

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The Bombers are undefeated, but even in Winnipeg they haven’t blown up the Stamps. In the teams’ last eight regular-season meetings, the Bombers had edged the Stamps by a grand total of two points — 199-197 — and their meeting two weeks ago in Winnipeg gave the Stamps a near victory, but fall 26-19.

It’s also the Stamps’ annual Family Day game, which includes puppies, inflatables, face painting and more in the Gridiron Gardens before the game, plus a ton of in-game entertainment. suitable for children.

A few weeks ago, the Stamps felt the power of a packed IG Field when they had nearly 30,000 Winnipeggers yelling at them every time the offense had the ball.

They hope the Bombers feel the same way this weekend in Calgary.

“I would say you might get a glimpse of the Western Finals this week,” Stamps offensive lineman Derek Dennis said. “It’s a match for which we really need our fans. Winnipeg is a place where when they play at home, they’re a tough team to beat, and we want to get into that same conversation, and we need our fans, man.

“The weather is nice this week, it will be a beautiful sunny day. What better way to spend your Saturday? »

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