(My “Saturday Snap” name has never seemed more appropriate as I post some thoughts and photos of our visit to the new Mosaic Stadium. I meant to have these up Saturday night but supper with friends after the game then an awesome Fred Eaglesmith concert meant I didn’t finish this post until Sunday.)
Shea and I took my mom and dad to the first test game in the new Mosaic Stadium yesterday which featured a CIS-record setting crowd of 16,500 watch the Regina Rams beat the Saskatoon Huskies.
Way back when the stadium was announced in July 2012, I did a post where I tried to sum up the positives and negatives in a fairly neutral way. I was fairly agnostic about the stadium overall – I could see benefits and I could see negatives.
My biggest regret is that plans to put it right downtown on the old CP Railyard which would’ve connected downtown, with its many hotels and restaurants, and the warehouse district, with its many bars and clubs, didn’t happen. (Oh well, maybe in another hundred years?) 😉
I ended up talking to one fairly VIP person I met at the game who said he agreed downtown would’ve been ideal in his view but he hoped that eventually the current location could be connected to downtown via development at the site of the old stadium and the building of new housing and businesses. Not sure if that will happen as they’re a fair distance apart but that would definitely be making lemonade out of lemons.
As for the stadium itself, here’s a few of my random thoughts…
- I dropped off mom and dad on the north side of Dewdney Avenue on Elphinstone St. around 12:30pm (doors were 12pm and game was at 2pm) so they could get us seats then went back home to pick up Shea who was waiting for our babysitter at 1pm.
- The City had pushed taking Football Express transit from malls but we decided to take our chances with on-street parking as close as we could get. Even though we was pretty late arriving compared to most of the crowd, we lucked into an amazing spot right on Dewdney Ave at a corner (eg. no one in front of us) after a lady in a van was pulling away just as we arrived. This meant that we barely fought traffic leaving the stadium and were up Dewdney, onto Lewvan and back home within ten minutes of getting to our car!
- Getting into the stadium was quick and painless – security did a quick check of our bags (you were allowed to bring drinks and snacks for this game – not sure if this will be allowed once the stadium is fully operational but I hope so – it’s expensive enough to take the family to a game/event without having to pay concession prices so it’s nice to have the option to bring a bit of your own food/drink), they scanned our tickets and we were in.
- First impression is how open everything feels – almost like being on an outdoor plaza when you first walk in. (The stadium is set into the ground so you walk in on the main concourse level and then have to walk down into lower bowl seats – which were the only ones open for the game.)
- Of course it helped make for a great day that the weather was sunny and +25 degrees!
- The concourse is a mix of open and covered space and stretches around the entire stadium which is perhaps the biggest change from the old stadium where each side was independent of the other.
- I found the stairs to the lower bowl quite steep compared to how I found the stairs at Taylor Field.
- The aisles down to the seats also seemed narrower than I expected (or maybe just that the aisles in the corner of the stadium where we originally sat seemed a lot wider?)
- We wandered the concourse towards where mom and dad had texted that they’d gotten seats. It wasn’t too crowded but I kept thinking how different it might feel with twice as many people in the stadium – concourse, food lines, washrooms, parking, etc.
- Speaking of washrooms, I was hoping to be the first person to use one of the urinals as my own little personal claim-to-fame but by the time the beer had filtered through, I think I missed my chance! 😉
- Got to our seats and another big change is that there *are* individual seats instead of the wooden benches of the old stadium. Small things but this means the people you’re passing can stand *and* flip back their seat to give you lots of room to pass.
- I think the stadium now has more leg room too which, as a 6’2″ guy, I appreciate. Every seat also has a drink holder in front though I found them not as deep as I expected and it felt like a passing person might bump a can and still knock it out pretty easily.
- We sat and just took in the atmosphere, visiting with each other and some of the people sitting around us.
- Although it was a sunny day, we were on the east side in the shade and it was surprisingly cold – so much that we ended up switching to seats in the sun in the end zone at half time (also wanting to take advantage of the event being General Admission to move around and see a couple different perspectives.)
- It was also *very* windy where we were at first and I’d read some concerns that the new stadium might create a “wind tunnel” effect (although I’d also read that the design took the wind factor into account and would minimize the impact of wind – something that’s top-of-the-list for a design in Saskatchewan!)
- After the national anthem and a flyover by some Canadian Forces jets, it was game on.
- The sound system seemed a bit loud and yet muffled where we were sitting (about twenty rows up on the five yard line in the north end zone) at first but it seemed better when we moved right to the seats in the end zone at half time.
- Funniest moment of the game? Seeing one of the security guards have a very dejected face when he checked his 50/50 tickets. (I think the 50/50 hit $80,000 or so?)
- Crowd was pretty restrained for the most part but they got quite loud at the end as the game got close. There was even a relatively feeble attempt at a wave!
- Someone posted on Twitter that they “saw the first person to ever get kicked out of the new stadium” so that person has a claim to infamy.
- The main scoreboard wasn’t operational but it is *huge* and will be cool to see in action eventually (I joked with Shea that it actually folded forward and could be used as a dome for the stadium!) 😉
- We’d brought some snacks and drinks so didn’t sample any of the food but it is *very* cool to see the stadium using local restaurants – Beer Bros, Coney Island Poutine, etc.
- I think I also read somewhere that they’ll be offering local craft brews as well as the usual Coors Light/Pilsner combinations.
- We had a couple beers – one in the first half and one in the second half. $7 per can. Tasted a million times better when we moved into the sun!
- I was surprised to see they’ve given up a lot of seating area but kinda like the “Terrace” area in the south-end zone with about half a dozen rows of metal breakfast bar-style tables along them where people can stand with their drinks/food and watch the game.
- I miss being able to see the city skyline as you could from Taylor Field. Perhaps seats in the south end have a better angle but where we were in the north end, we could really only see the Cathedral tower.
- Here’s a couple good reviews of the new stadium – Joel Gasson at 3DownNation.com and Rob Vanstone of the Leader Post – who make many of the same observations I have and include some additional pictures as well.