good article about CFL stadiums

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They may stand as a testament to a rich history, but Canada's professional football stadiums are getting old.

The combined age of the eight stadiums in the Canadian Football League is more than 300 years. In contrast, the total age of Canada's six National Hockey League arenas is 99 years.

For football fans, the old facilities may evoke wonderful memories of past glories - but they can also mean knot-tying waits for washrooms, bum-numbing benches and a dearth of facilities for fans with disabilities, parking or luxury suites for big-spending corporate clients.

The newest stadiums, Rogers Centre in Toronto and Vancouver's B.C. Place, were built in the 1980s but have reputations for being too cavernous for typical Canadian football crowds.

Limited by thin profits and faced with potentially giant construction costs, only one Canadian franchise, Winnipeg, has designs on a new sports-entertainment complex.

Yet experts and officials are optimistic about the future of Canada's football stadia, believing they don't have to splash out hundreds of millions of dollars on new construction.

Instead, call Debbie Travis.

Renos - and lots of them - are in the works at nearly all CFL stadiums.

"Really efficient, effective renovations to a stadium and an enhancement of their overall marketing, in-stadium programs ... would be far more beneficial than putting up a new place," says Norman O'Reilly, director of the school of sports administration at Sudbury, Ont.'s Laurentian University.

"The stadium experience - and the entertainment experience - make a huge difference."

"From an economic perspective, it doesn't make a lot of sense to build a new stadium, because you're not going to be able to generate the revenues from it that would be able to justify a public subsidization of the facility," says Daniel Mason, a University of Alberta professor who studies how cities leverage sports facilities.

Typical football stadiums - unless domed - are particularly challenged, because they do not see year-round activity and are infrequently used as venues for commercial events such as home shows, which could be used to justify public investment.

So instead of breaking the bank on new buildings, CFL stadiums are getting makeovers, with many more are planned in coming years.

For example, Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium has added large concession areas and will contribute millions to the construction of a new multi-purpose recreation centre and fieldhouse.

Montreal is going to add 5,000 seats with a deck on the south side of Percival Molson Stadium - a 92-year-old college stadium - and add enclosed suites on the north side. Total cost is about $40 million.

Mason says renos makes sense, adding some of the stadiums can use the nostalgia value of the old buildings to their advantage.

"Rather than ... tear this down and build some new state-of-the-art facility, (it's advisable) to basically renovate it, but in a way that speaks to the history of the team and the history of the facility," Mason suggests.

Regina's Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field is a case in point.

"That's the way we're trying to go," says Saskatchewan Roughriders president Jim Hopson. "If I owned this team, I wouldn't be able to make a strong case to build a new stadium because we're really a 10-event, 11-event stadium.

"So I think our best shot in a place like Regina, and I think a lot of the other markets, is a stadium like Fenway that is intimate, that is appealing."

In the last two-and-a-half years, more than $3 million has been spent improving the stadium, including a new video board, sound system, turf, concessions, club seating, box suites, locker-room facilities and press box.

Underscoring the franchise's history, giant images of Rider legends George Reed and Ron Lancaster have been added to the west entrance of the stadium.

Teams across the league are employing a host of strategies that strive to keep fans passing through their old turnstiles.

Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium - which first opened for the British Empire Games in 1930 - was considered an embarrassment to the league nearly four decades later.

But the facility has since undergone numerous changes, including an extensive series of improvements in the 1990s that introduced new corporate boxes, upgraded player facilities and revamped sound system.

Though still considered a historical landmark, Ivor Wynne's spectators can now enjoy the largest outdoor video board in Canada and one of the largest in North America. The TigerVision board was added in 2004.

"It's as good an environment to watch a sports event as anywhere in the world," says team president Scott Mitchell.

But the old park has its issues, he concedes, and that may mean more changes yet.

"Fans don't always want to hear this ... (but) there are a lot of limitations," Mitchell says. "It's going to be a topic that's going to have to come up sooner than later as to what the future of this stadium is."

Montreal has made the league's oldest stadium into the league's toughest ticket. With fewer than 25,000 seats, fans flock to the downtown stadium, which completed $13.3 million in improvements in 2003 with new turf, renovations to grandstands, player locker-rooms and showers, and additional concessions and washrooms.

The CFL's newest and biggest stadiums - Rogers Centre, B.C. Place and Commonwealth - have closed off sections of their stadiums to tighten the availability of tickets and thus create greater demand.

All three have also made notable improvements to their game-day presentation, whether it's a game-day remodelling of the stadium in Argonauts double-blue, putting a "tailgate" barbecue in Commonwealth's end zone, or a pre-game street party a la Vancouver.

In the case of B.C. Place, the Lions remain happy under their dome. The stadium made headlines earlier this year when a tear in the Teflon roof saw the air-supported structure deflated.

Though there's speculation surrounding the future of the provincially owned stadium, Lions president Bob Ackles doesn't believe the province will sell it to someone who would want to knock it down.

Interestingly, the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, a dead ringer for B.C. Place that was built the same year, is slated for demolition.

"It is in very good condition structurally," Ackles says.

"What it needs are a few upgrades and concessions, which they have been working on.

"It will need a new roof soon and I wouldn't be surprised if that was part of the deal when the government decides what's going to happen."

Fans of the stadium also rave about the atmosphere, which can be deafening when filled with 30,000 spectators.

Winnipeg has also made significant upgrades to its 54-year-old stadium, but is now looking at something entirely new, with a proposed $145-million development.

The brainchild of media tycoon and Bomber fan David Asper, it would see a $120-million stadium and a $25-million commercial development on the site of the current facility.

Asper is executive vice-president of CanWest Global Communications, which owns several Canadian newspapers.

The stadium would hold up to 40,000 permanent seats (the current stadium holds 29,500 people) and be partially covered.

"It's very important -this thing has got to move into the next century," Asper says.

"Pro sports franchises have to provide sponsors better inventory; they have to look for additional revenue streams and ... become media industries in and of themselves, and the new facility will allow us to do that."

Bomber president Lyle Bauer believes it's a good move for the club, adding that while Canad Inns Stadium has served its purpose, it is, in many respects, now functionally obsolete. Among the current problems, he says, are cramped seating, inadequate handicapped facilities and old washrooms and concessions.

However, building a new stadium does not necessarily deliver long-term results, notes Laurentian's O'Reilly.

"It's almost down to a law," says O'Reilly, pointing to a concept called the stadium novelty effect.

"A stadium will bring you increased attendance for five years, the most in the first year and then gradually dropping over the five years, and will return to the attendance levels you had in your old stadium."

Too bad the article doesn't talk about the impact that brand new stadiums would have in an expansion market. The reason that new stadiums in existing markets have such a small benefit is that there is forgone revenue from the old stadium. Therefore, the marginal benefit of the new building is:

Econ. activity (new) - Econ. activity (old)

In a new market, there is no old stadium revenues to subtract. Wish we had a good idea what the impact would be.

I prefer the old stadiums anyway, I'm not one to complain about a bench seat or having to use the sink in the washrooms. That's part of the atmosphere.
Weren't the Argos looking to partner with UofT or somebody to build a new stadium? A smaller outdoor venue? I know their attendance is up as of late, but I wonder if they are interested in moving to BMO field at all? Anything has more atmosphere than Skydome.
However, with the NFL clappin' their trap about international expansion lately...maybe they want to hang on to those football rights to the Skydome for a bit longer. London actively looking into the CFL? They come up often, not as often as Windsor seems to. I recall hearing stories about how the CFL felt they could tap into the Detroit market, since not all football fans can go to Lions games. This may have been back when they were out in Pontiac though.
Justifying building a 30,000 or 25,000 seat stadium in London would be a tough sell. CFL stadiums don't get used much, do they? We don't have baseball teams all over the place to share them with...and given the climate, outdoor shows/concerts aren't typically an option.
It'd be hard to sell people on investing in a stadium that you're quite certain won't make money.

I just came across a great article on the CFL stadiums.
Sadly and as we know only one new one is scheduled in the Peg while renos are plenty for the remainder.
I would consider new venues in Hamilton and Regina, but there are no plans other then a " decision needs to be made" in the Hammer.
This does not bode well for new possible stadiums elsewhere as potnetial expansion sites.

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I don’t mean to hijack this topic, but why do you always put your titles in caps? :?

dude, i posted this article

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Sorry, didn't go on the Cats site.
What's the respond like.

cats site?..its the same site…check the main page of forums and u will find the thread.

i just view this forum from the cats site, as they are both 1 site now.

We go thru this argument all the time… Taylor Field is fine the way it is-- if you go to the Rider page on this forum , you will see a debate going on about adding extra seats this season. I think you can reasonably expand TF with end zone seating, permanently, and not have too much trouble selling the games out. The current location is fine, the only thing that really needs to be done is rail line re-location in Regina , and that is a $100 mill + venture in its own right.

One thing that isn't mentioned is accommodations for television. I wonder what, if anything, they are doing to help TSN with their coverage? I'm not really clear on what exactly is needed these days since many cameras can be automated and run remotely. Anybody have any insights on coverage plans?

The last thing Taylor Field needs is more seats. The last few years they have averaged nowhere near capacity.

This crud again?
When the Lions can consistantly do better than half fill their stadium, you can get back to us about what the Riders need or don’t need…

We have the second best attendance in the CFL, and get over 50,000 come playoff time. I don't think attendance issues lie with the Lions at this moment Arius.

Same old arguments eh, RLR? When you arent whining about injuries, you are bragging about attendance-- still only to get 30K in a 60K stadium is only half full my friend. Maybe if you 50 to 55K for the regular season games, then you might have something to brag about.

We don't sell 60,000 tickets, we sell about 35,000 and average around 31-32. Still pretty good for the CFL and better than every team except Edmonton.

The only reason that is because most other stadiums are lucky to have a 30K stadium. Yes, the attendance is not bad, but harly worthy of bragging rights.

The Riders have a stadium of 30,000, don't they? If the Lions attendance is 'not bad', the Riders attendance is horrid. It's a good sign here in BC when it's a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest and the Lions still get over 32,000 fans inside the Dome against Montreal, a non-rival.

It's not horrid when you're selling all the tickets available. I understand what the Lions are trying to do, trying to limit the tickets available to create demand for Lions tickets, but it's hardly enough to criticize another team.

You don't make 60000 tickets available each game because YOU CAN"T SELL THAT MANY.
I'm not criticising the attendance at BC PLace, which has certainly picked up in recent years, but when you start up with your ridiculous trash talk about the attendance at Taylor Field, you leave yourself wide open to attack.
Comparing average attendance in Vancouver to average attendance in Regina in the way you always try to do, is a fools game.
Of course you are no man's fool, right...?

Anyway, I am off to Taylor Field right now, where, if we had 10000 more seats available for todays game, we would have had a larger crowd in attendance than
any regular season Lion home game this year or last.

For the record, Taylor Field max capacity is 28,800. I rather see it as great for both that BC's average attendance is going up and that Taylor Field is sold out. Instead of crapping over each other, we should be challenging each other: BC get over the 35,000 average mark for the rest of the season and Sask sell out the rest of the season. Then both can brag.