The Saskatchewan Roughriders trained in Florida in 2013, and are back this year.The CFL is coming to the Sunshine State—for real this time. Two attempts were made to put teams in Florida during the league's USA expansion era in the 1990s, which didn't work out, but four of the league's current nine teams are heading to Florida's IMG Academy for offseason camps this year. The Saskatchewan Roughriders' camp is already underway this weekend, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers following from April 12-15, the Edmonton Eskimos heading there April 22-25 and the Calgary Stampeders taking over April 26-28.
It's interesting to see such an extensive CFL presence in the US, and all at one facility. These aren't free-agent tryout camps of the sort just about every team runs; they're the three-day offseason voluntary workouts for current members of the team that we've discussed before. There are huge advantages to doing these in Florida rather than in the team's own city as they've often been in the past, though, and they go well beyond just getting sunshine instead of snow. One of the biggest factors is geography and the cost and availability of flights; as explored in 2011, it was extremely difficult for teams in more isolated cities such as Regina and Winnipeg to get their American players in for a minicamp. At that time, Edmonton was the only West Division team holding an offseason voluntary workout, and that was a short one. Now, teams like Saskatchewan and Calgary have elected to do these in Florida, making it much easier (and cheaper) to bring in their players from across the States. That's a way around geographic isolation, and one that will likely work out well for those teams.Read More »from Florida’s IMG Academy is hosting preseason camps for almost half of the CFL’s teams