SPORTS

Ticats visit Lions in Vancouver instead of hosting Argos on Labour Day weekend

08/29/2013 08:39 EDT | Updated 10/29/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Things are definitely not the same for Henry Burris this Labour Day weekend.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback will suit up Friday against the B.C. Lions instead of playing a regional rival on the holiday Monday. This marks the first time in more than six decades that the Tiger-Cats have not hosted the Toronto Argonauts on the holiday weekend.

"It is a little different," said Burris, a 14-year CFL veteran. "I think, every year I've been in the CFL, I've had a Labour Day game (after also) playing in Calgary and Saskatchewan."

Up until now the Ticats and Argos had played in Steeltown every year since 1950, according to a Hamilton spokesman. The Ticats are awaiting the completion of a new stadium, but their temporary home in Guelph, Ont., is not available.

"We'll get it back next year though, so that's a good thing," said Hamilton general manager and head coach Kent Austin. "We've got a new stadium coming. We do miss the Labour Day Classic, but it's just one year."

Austin, a former CFL quarterback who is in his first season at Hamilton's helm, became ingrained in Labour Day Classics during a 10-year career with Saskatchewan, B.C., Toronto, and Winnipeg. Recalling many battles between the Roughriders and Blue Bombers, he looked forward to more Hamilton-Toronto holiday games.

"Those are the types of things that you need in this sport and other sports," said Austin, who has also coached Saskatchewan. "You want those classic games. The Labour Day Classic games are unique to the CFL, and that's a good thing."

The non-traditional game is the first of a home-and-home series between Hamilton and B.C. that will conclude next week in Guelph.

While the CFL is steeped in Labour Day tradition, the Lions have not always soaked it up because they lack a regional rival. In recent years, the Lions have played the Montreal Alouettes, who will visit Toronto on Tuesday instead.

Lions coach Mike Benevides is looking forward to the chance to claim four points from the Ticats. But Benevides, a Toronto native who used to cheer for the Argos, still finds the Ticats visit unusual.

"Any time you talk about a back-to-back game, any time you talk about a chance to get done what you want to get done, yeah, I'll take the Ticats," he said. "But as a young kid, I remember, it was (then Toronto coach) Bob O'Billovich and the Ticats on Labour Day. It was not the B.C. Lions."

"From a geographical point of view, it's different, but it'll be real exciting."

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