As NS gears up for the first game of the CFL regular season, the host city is in full swing

This weekend, the Canadian Football League is playing a regular season game in Nova Scotia for the first time in its history.

The clash between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Toronto Argonauts – the host team – will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Acadia University’s Raymond Field in Wolfville.

Destination Acadia director Tanya Colburne says this will be unlike anything Wolfville has seen before.

“It was really a matter for the CFL, ourselves and the city to come together to formalize everything from a transportation and parking plan and make sure we have additional benefits and services in and around the community to make sure the experience is that.” It’s best for everyone involved,” Colburne said.

“Every little detail you can think of is in the works as we speak.”

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Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Brayden Lenius (19) is hit by Toronto Argonauts defensive back by Crezdon Butler (24) during the first half of CFL soccer action in Regina September 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis.


Acadia University had to make some changes to accommodate the number of people watching the game, adding about 8,500 temporary seats to Raymond Field for about 10,000 fans.

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CFL Chief Operating Officer Duane Vienneau said that getting people in and out of Wolfville is a big priority for Touchdown Atlantic.

“Cramping people into a stadium is one thing, getting 10,000 people in and out of Wolfville is another,” Vieneau said.

“We want to make sure we have a good transportation plan, and we want to make sure our guests will come and have a pleasant time.”

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A long overdue game

Touchdown Atlantic, a series of Canadian Football League games played in the Maritimes, began in 2005. The games were originally exhibition games, meaning they were not counted towards the regular season. This eventually changed to include regular season games.

The first Touchdown Atlantic game was played in June 2005 in Halifax. Another game was planned for 2006 but was canceled after the Ottawa Renegades were suspended.

Halifax has not had an opportunity to host touchdown Atlantic games since.

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In January 2020, it was announced that Halifax would be able to host its first CFL regular-season game for Touchdown Atlantic, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed.

Vienneau says the timing of the ticket sale could not have been worse.

“We went on sale with the game on March 10th, we sold them out in about a day, and the next day, March 11th, the NBA left the court with COVID,” Vieneau said.

“This year, when we felt like the COVID restrictions were going to be lifted, we immediately jumped back and restarted our planning.”

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Anthony LeBlanc, Founding Partner, Schooners Sports and Entertainment, Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner, Canadian Football League, and Greg Turner, Councilor-at-Large and Deputy Mayor, City of Moncton pose for a photo at a news conference in Moncton, NB, March 29, 2017. March 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward.


In 2022, Nova Scotia had another chance to host Touchdown Atlantic, but due to construction around Saint Mary’s Field, the organizers had to choose a different location.

“We were supposed to be playing at Saint Mary’s in 2020, but during that two-year window when COVID was more prevalent, they decided to start construction, so the stadium expansion that we needed to do wasn’t available,” Vienneau said.

At that point, it was decided that Acadia University’s Raymond Field would host this year’s Touchdown Atlantic.

“When the suggestion came that Acadia would also be a great venue, the university jumped on it,” said Colbourne.

“We are very grateful and very excited that the timing worked out and that we were able to host this event.”

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Economic implications for Wolfville

Colburne said Wolfville residents should expect a lot of people over the next week.

“As you can imagine, with so many people coming into the city, hotels and guesthouses are completely sold out, not just here but in other communities as well,” Colburne said.

“Companies should see an influx. Even with the expansion of the stadium, the companies have seen significant growth in business.”

Between Thursday and Saturday, Touchdown Atlantic will host several events leading up to the game.

Family-friendly activities take place at Parade Square in downtown Halifax, including face painting, balloon animals and special performances by Argos and Riders players.

There will also be an opportunity to learn football at the Garrison Grounds in Halifax on Thursday.

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Over the weekend, the Riders, Argos and Atlantic Schooners team up to throw “the biggest block party on the east coast.”

The Gray Cup 109 Party Headquarters will feature live music, DJs, autographs and food trucks, according to organizers. Entry is free to anyone aged 19 and over and is set to kick off the celebrations for the 109th Gray Cup, taking place in Regina this fall.

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“We’re trying to create a bit of that festival environment that you see with the Gray Cup,” Vienneau said. “Sometimes we call Touchdown Atlantic a mini Gray Cup, so we’re trying to convey a little bit more of that Gray Cup feel that you get in those games.”

Saturday is game day and there will be a variety of events taking place in the Wolfville area.

The day begins at 11:00 am with a tailgate party at President’s Field adjacent to Raymond Field in Acadia.

A game ticket is required to attend this event, but for those who were unable to secure a ticket, a Touchdown Atlantic Watch Party will be offered free of charge to fans of all ages.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. As NS gears up for the first game of the CFL regular season, the host city is in full swing


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