nb-si-justinconn-220

Calgary Stampeder Justin Conn is looking forward to playing a CFL game in his home province of New Brunswick this weekend. (Calgary Stampeders)

Football fans in New Brunswick are gearing up for Sunday’s CFL game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Fans in Fredericton have more than a passing interest in the game because one of the teams has a player from just outside Fredericton.

Justin Conn, 23, is a linebacker with Calgary Stampeders and is from New Maryland, just minutes outside the city.

Conn was named Fredericton High School's athlete of the year in 2005 when he played for the Black Kats football team.

After graduation, he played for Bishops University in Quebec and after four seasons there, he was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes to play in the CFL. The team won the Grey Cup in 2010.

Just one month ago, he moved to Calgary to be a linebacker for the Stampeders.

"It all begins when you're young being involved with sport and learning the rules and the way of the game and, you know, the Capital Area Minor Football Association, they really helped me develop those skills as a young football player," said Conn.

He said the atmosphere in Moncton reminds him of that Grey Cup experience.

"Kind of getting the feel here right now in Moncton,  we've been here since yesterday and you're getting the whole Grey Cup feel," Conn said. "It’s amazing to say the least."

Hometown proud

Conn said the only downside to playing in his home province is that he doesn't have enough free tickets for all the people he knows.

Meanwhile, football fans in Moncton will see a new type of bus Sunday taking people to and from the CFL game.

The city is testing an articulated bus, meaning two sections are attached with an accordion-like connection.

Marie Claude Pierce, senior transit planner for with Codiac Transit, said the new bus would be able to carry a lot more passengers.

"Our regular buses could probably have 50 or so people standing or seated in them.  On this bus here, it almost doubles the capacity, 112 people standing and seated," said Pierce.

Pierce said after the game the bus will be tested on some of the city's express routes for a few months.

However, the city said it has no plans to buy an articulated bus right now.

Hopes for N.B. team

It's the second time the CFL has brought the pros to Moncton, prompting hopes that a team may one day wind up in the region.

"Hopefully it’ll lure this market into investing into a CFL team because definitely it’s more than just the home game product it gives to a certain given market, it’s all about the values of creating a community," said Henry Burris, quarterback for the Stampeders.

The stadium seats 20,000 people and officials are hoping for a sell-out Sunday.