Tuesday, April 12, 2016
ARGOS TAKE TRAINING CAMP TO GUELPH
Toronto will play its home games at a refurbished BMO Field in 2016 as the CFL franchise returns to the CNE grounds after leaving in '89 for Rogers Centre. And the Argos will begin preparing for the season at training camp in Guelph, Ont., deciding Tuesday to return to Alumni Stadium for the first time since 1995.
"I know some of the history of the Argos is they used to be out there, this was before my time here,'' Barker said during a conference call. "I think that's kind of one of the themes of our whole season, is this is a bit of a throwback.
"We're going back to BMO Field where the Argos use to play and now here we are going back to Guelph for training camp. We think it will be a great environment for our players to learn and grow and come together as a football team.''
The Argos called the University of Guelph and its training camp home from 1978 to 1995.
Toronto had held its previous two training camps at York University and Barker said the CFL club narrowed its list of training-camp sites down to the two Ontario schools. The agreement with Guelph, though, is just for this year.
"It was a tough decision, York was a good host to us,'' Barker said. "One thing the new ownership said when it came in was training camp is about one thing: Getting your team ready and find the best possible scenario for that.
"We just felt like the new facilities they have at Guelph made it conducive for our players and coaches. It's important the coaches have a great teaching environment.''
Barker said while the turf field at York is "high end,'' Argos players found it hard on their legs.
"I don't know if that's because they're football players,'' he said. "But the final thing in the decision-making was for the players.''
The Argos will also have access to a grass field at Guelph, something Barker figures the club will use about a third of the time during camp.
Toronto will begin preparations for the 2016 season May 25 with a three-day rookie camp involving quarterbacks and first-year players. Veterans will report May 28 and again all training-camp workouts will be open to fans free of charge.
Toronto's roster features three former Guelph players in defensive lineman Cam Walker and long-snappers Dan McDonald and Jake Reinhart.
Barker said currently plans are for Toronto to hold its annual intra-squad game at Guelph but added a final decision hasn't yet been made.
The Argos will hold their 2016 rookie-free agent camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., April 24-26.
Toronto's first game of the season will be an exhibition contest June 11 at BMO Field versus the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The two teams will kick off the 2016 regular season at BMO Field on June 23.
"This is a big year for us being in the new stadium and we're so excited about it,'' Barker said.