Ray leading Eskimos into newly renovated BC Place
The Edmonton Eskimos would love to spoil the B.C. Lions party.
Beating the Lions in the opening CFL game at the newly renovated BC Place would be a great way for the Eskimos to help pull themselves out of their recent nosedive, said quarterback Ricky Ray.
"We have one goal here," Ray said Thursday as the Eskimos got their first look inside the stadium. "It's not to come and check out the new stadium and see how the roof opens and closes.
"Our goal is to come here and win."
The Lions and Eskimos are teams headed in opposite directions.
B.C. started the season 0-5 but have won five straight games and six of their last seven to improve to 6-6.
The Eskimos were the talk of the league when they started 5-0 but since have been 2-5. They were beaten 36-1 at Commonwealth Stadium the last time they played B.C.
"We've gone through our ups and downs," said Ray. "We have been a little inconsistent.
"For us, it's trying to get that consistency back. We have won some big games but missed some opportunities."
Edmonton starts the weekend tied with Calgary for first place in the West with a 7-5 record, but by Sunday could slip to third.
Receiver Fred Stamps said the season isn't slipping away on the Eskimos.
"We don't look at it like that," said Stamps. "We still look at it like we are in first place.
"We know we had a great start. All we have to do is go out there and play football."
Over 40,000 tickets have been sold for the first game at the newly renovated stadium. Sarah McLachlan, the Juno and Grammy award-winning performer, will sing the national anthem prior to the game.
The building has undergone a $560-million facelift which includes a retractable roof, a huge centre-hung video board, new wider seats with cupholders, modern turf, and enhanced concession and bathroom facilities.
Crews were still busy working on the building Thursday. Huge sheets covered large sections of seats. An army of workmen in hard hats and safety goggles scampered around the building setting up the goal posts and doing final repairs.
Lions placekicker Paul McCallum has a chance to write some CFL history during the game.
McCallum has been successful on 26 consecutive field goals. He needs three more to break the CFL record of 28 in a row set by Dave Ridgway of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1993.
The 41-year-old McCallum already holds the CFL record for longest field goal, a 62-yard kick he made against the Eskimos on Oct. 27, 2001 when he played for Saskatchewan.