The advent of home field advantage for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was supposed to be the big psychological boost the slumping Hamilton Tiger-Cats needed going into the Labour Day Classic.
But the return of starting quarterback Zach Collaros brought even more attention to practice Wednesday, their first-ever at Tim Hortons Field.
Neither, though, are guaranteed to be ready to go Monday. Collaros is day-to-day. The stadium, it seems, is the same.
Earlier this week, officials estimated there was an 85 per cent chance the stadium would be ready for the game to be played.
Ticats coach: 'It doesn't matter what field we're on'
"We're preparing to win a football game," said head coach Kent Austin, trying to dismiss the where and when the Labour Day game will happen as a regular distraction. "It doesn't matter what field we're on."
Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell said the venue and day was out of their hands and more than vague when asked for updates on the progress of the stadium, and whether there's a time the team needs to make a decision logistically for the league and players, and for fans and ticket-holders.
"The latest update is that they continue to make progress. You know again, it's a process we're not in control of at all. We continue to get updates like everybody else. We've not heard of anything that's been a setback. All we hear about is the checklist that continues to be augmented and improved upon."
The Ticats have a pair contingency plans in place if the Monday 1 p.m. game doesn't happen. The first is pushing the game to Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The second is moving the game to Toronto to play Tuesday.
Occupancy permit not the only hurdle
Mitchell cautioned that even if the Ticats received an occupancy permit from the city, that largely hinges on safety regulations and doesn't take into account things like broadcast needs to host a game.
"Just because you (get an) occupancy doesn't mean necessarily mean you have all the needs for it to put on a game," Mitchell said.
Collaros: 'Which doctor?'
Collaros, who took snaps today after he was removed from the six-game injury list, said the coaching staff hasn't advised the team on contingency planning. The six-foot-two, 216-pound Collaros has been out with a concussion since a July 4 28-24 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.
Asked what the doctor has told him, Collaros joked, "Which doctor?"
As for the injury, Collaros said doing nothing — not working out, practising or studying film — was the hardest part.
"It's an injury you can't rehab, you kind of just have to do nothing," Collaros said. "That was tough for me."
Austin said it should become clear soon if he’d have Collaros in the lineup.
"We're going to have to get some assurance … that the probability [he'll be cleared to play] is high or else I'll have to get reps to other players," Austin said.
As for the field, that's still up in the air. While there's no indication from practice Tim Hortons Field will be ready to host a game Monday or Tuesday, there was one positive from the stadium: the players like having a home.
"It felt great, the field felt amazing and obviously we were just juiced to be out there," said defensive lineman Brian Bulcke. "Honestly it's a really good field. There's a lot of space on the sidelines … really, it's great to play on. It's fast."