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Schultz: Riders and their fans stepped up for 101st Grey Cup

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Chris Schultz
11/25/2013 12:12:02 PM
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Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Roughriders - the 2013 Grey Cup Champions.

That's a statement of genuine significance when you consider the work and risk that was undertaken in the offseason and throughout the year.

In some ways, the Riders gambled and won. Heading into the season, the thought of being the home team in the Grey Cup must have been intoxicating.

It wasnt just the advantage in terms of actually winning the game - and it was - but also the revenue generated in the city of Regina and throughout the province. An estimated $123 million will be shelled out from CFL fans from Saskatchewan and across the country. During the offseason, I couldn't help but think there was pressure to make that win happen because of the benefits it curtailed.

The aspects of the Grey Cup I enjoy the most are the moments you know you will never experience again.

Martin Short and Tom Hanks 'just dropping by' to be a part of the crowd was surreal. Shaking hands with two entertainment icons at the top of their profession and then watching Tom Hanks lead the "0skie Wee Wee" song was a sight to behold.

There was no beefed up security and no entourage - just a one entertainer sharing a Canadian experience with another.

And hats off to the way the people of Regina embraced their fellow Canadians from other provinces and territories, expressing only a desire to share this moment in time. The way the fans embraced our CFL panel with a level of respect and affection that each of us experienced and are grateful for.

From where we sat in the stands and walking throughout the streets of Regina, I give my personal thanks to everyone for making us feel so appreciated and welcome. I didn't have a single negative experience with anyone I met or came across.

It's an amazing, uplifting and humbling experience when you're on the sidelines and people are applauding your presence.

And how about the scene after the game when the Riders had won and the Grey Cup was being presented? Not one person left.

All 50,000 (at least!) people stayed - from the highest of the rafters right down to field level. It was cold, wet and uncomfortable, but an hour after the game everyone was still there.

Seeing the efficiency and focus of the Riders from the opening intros to the players' victory formation to end the game, you kinda knew this was meant to be.

And what a way to end the last championship at Mosaic Stadium/Taylor Field.

As we look ahead to 2014 there are two new stadiums on the horizon and a new team on the way. Having those stadiums up and ready to go on time is important for a new era of stability in the league.

An thought we say this at the end of every Grey Cup (and it's the truth), this year's event was a complete success on many fronts.

Sure, you would want a more competitive game. But in terms of a city hosting a sporting event, this one past holds its own high degree of success.

Many thanks to the planners, investors, workers and especially the volunteers. You hit a home run in making all feel welcome - except the Hamilton Tiger Cats (But watch out, they may be back next year)!

And as many Rider fans will surely respond, "So will we!"

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