Published on January 4, 2014 4:17 PM by dbo.
The 2014 CFL season will see the opening of two new stadiums. This accomplishment is rare in Canada. Only once before has a similar feat occurred in a single year, and that resulted in an average attendance increase of over 6,500 persons per game in the three years that followed to the peak of the CFL‘s popularity. Time will tell whether this latest building boom will have a similar effect.
In 1976, Olympic Stadium opened in Montreal and the Alouettes moved in in late September to large crowds. In Toronto, a renovated Exhibition Stadium expanded by 15,000 seats (and configured to be baseball friendly) opened, again to increasing crowds. Olympic Stadium was a new facility, whose construction delays and cost overruns led to the retractable roof not being completed for years, while Exhibition Stadium was a major rework of an existing park. In the years that followed, Commonwealth Stadium would come online in 1978 with a major expansion in 1982 and BC Place Stadium in 1983.
While the 1950’s saw a rapid increase in the CFL‘s popularity and the stadium increases to go with it, most were expansion of existing parks and no period rivalled the changes in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
In 2014, two new stadiums in Ottawa and Hamilton will open. Hamilton’s is a brand new stadium on the site of their previous home. Ottawa returns to the league at the same Lansdowne Park site, but with a essentially brand new stadium using perhaps 25% of the previous infrastructure. While these stadiums aren’t the large seat increases 1976 brought, they bring modern amenities and comforts that are expected in this era.
These inaugurations follow the opening of Investors Group Field in Winnipeg in 2013, new seats in Commonwealth Stadium last year, the refurbishment of BC Place Stadium completed in 2011, and expansion of Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in 2010. With construction underway in Regina to complete their new stadium for 2017, Toronto finding a new home by 2018 and Calgary kicking around the direction to go in their city, by the end of the decade all CFL cities could be in modern amenity stadiums.
This is unprecedented. A level playing field, not in terms of size, but in terms of quality fan experience. Never before have stadiums in all cities been at the current level of experience. This will go a long way to changing attitudes (second rate experience leads to second rate beliefs).
That covers the existing franchise cities, but there is still the drive to add the 10th team. Here is a look at what has been going on across the country the last six months on the stadium front.
For posterity, news of the Toronto rumours: