Are you ready for hugging, kissing and crying? The Sask. Roughriders are, says the team president

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Following a unanimous vote by the CFL's board of governors, the season will start August 5. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping to pack Mosaic Stadium again come this August. (Glenn Reid/CBC News - image credit)
Following a unanimous vote by the CFL's board of governors, the season will start August 5. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping to pack Mosaic Stadium again come this August. (Glenn Reid/CBC News - image credit)

Mosaic Stadium, which has sat quiet for several months, will soon become a beehive of activity.

A CFL board of governors conference call Monday, followed by a unanimous vote, was all it took to kick-start franchises now frantically readying for a season that is just weeks away.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will be recalling employees who were laid off during the pandemic to throw them back into the fire.

It will be no different from any other pre-season's preparations, except now staff must do it with less time, less money and more uncertainty of what game day might look like.

Public health guidelines will still rule the day. Will a capacity crowd be allowed? Must fans wear masks? One dose or two? Will there be an AstraZeneca only section?

The province is on the verge of meeting requirements to allow Stage 3 of it's reopening plan. Once three weeks has passed since 70 per cent of all residents 12 and over have their first dose of vaccine, the green light will flash for mass gatherings, the province has said.

The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

Roughriders president Craig Reynolds was under the impression Monday that proof of vaccination will not be needed to enter Mosaic Stadium.

It will be much more restrictive for players, who will check into quarantine in Regina on July 2, followed by training camp at the stadium on July 10.

Every precaution will be taken to ensure the health and safety of players and staff. Camp will likely be a no-fans affair and very few if any media will be allowed.

The CFL says the schedule will be released Tuesday and that all teams will play 14 games.

There will be no pre-season games and the Roughriders home schedule is expected to be front-loaded so the rest of the country can catch up with reopening plans.

Reynolds said the opening home game — the first since 2019 — will be a monumental affair, an emotional evening nearly 600 days in the making.

Talk of a massive financial hit and a merger with the XFL will be put on hold for the moment as the Riders organization and it's fan base soak in the moment.

They will take joy in the fact their beloved Riders and the CFL game was not lost forever.

The night will be celebrated and those we have lost will be remembered.

Near 600 Saskatchewan residents have lost their battle with COVID-19. No doubt many were Rider fans and season ticket holders.

Warren Woods will never fill a press box seat again. He will be missed.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

It is hard at this juncture to imagine a full stadium, even if guidelines allow. Masks, physical distancing and weariness of what we touch has become a way of life.

Many have become freaked out by the sight of another human being, never mind bumping shoulders with thousands en masse.

Many, believe it or not, will have had too much to drink. There will be high-fiving, yelling and crying, hugging and kissing, all on the province's top 10 list for spreading the virus.

Some may not be ready for that anytime soon, fully vaccinated or not.

But life is slowly returning to normal, one day at a time. We should be thankful for that.

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