The Eskimos were required to look at options and alternatives for their 2015 training camp and pre-season game due to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted from June 6th to July 5th in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. They moved their home pre-season game to Fort McMurray’s SMS Stadium vs the Saskatchewan Roughriders. They also played their first regular season game against the Toronto Argonauts in Fort McMurray as the visiting team.
A new $5.3 million jumbotron and sound system was installed in Commonwealth Stadium in time for the 2014 season. The field was also modified to have full width and depth CFL end zones rather than angled corners.
2012 began a three year $12 million initiative to replace the seats in the stadium with new, wider green or yellow seats, losing one to three seats per row from the previous configuration. The new seats transition from green to gold to green in a random pixel gradient pattern versus the old orange/brick red colour of the original seats. The progress of the new seat installation could be seen in the background on broadcasts and images of the players. Before the 2013 season started, the installation was ahead of schedule with 95% of the lower bowl completed by mid-June, 2013 and the upper decks scheduled to be complete by the end of September, 2013. Seat installation was completed ahead of schedule with the replacement of all seats with 56,000 new seats in August, 2013.
The City of Edmonton approved a proposal in 2010 to replace Commonwealth’s natural grass field with artificial turf. Artificial turf installation was completed by the end of the week of May 17th, 2010. The process required the removal of over 12,000 cubic meters of soil. Commonwealth Stadium was the last natural turf field in the CFL after Winnipeg Stadium went to artificial turf in 1988. Natural grass returned to the CFL in 2016 with the Toronto Argonauts moving to BMO Field.
The Eskimos also contributed $7.5 million to $112 million in facility enhancements in the construction of a field house, new locker rooms and office space at Commonwealth. Construction was completed in time for the Eskimos first regular season game in 2010 but caused disruptions for the Eskimos first pre-season game. 2011 also saw the completion of the Eskimo dressing room with a new display.
While there was a proposal to make Commonwealth Stadium covered before it was built, Edmonton council elected for an open-air stadium. Talk has persisted over the years that the stadium was built with the possibility to add a roof and there were some attempts to start such a project. The last such plan estimated the cost at $67 million in 1983, but this was a study estimate for an air supported roof, not a final design cost. That plan had its opponents and detractors and the financing questioned. I have found no evidence that the stadium was designed with an enclosure option to be added as another phase of the original plans or that there was ever a serious architectural and engineering study completed to state how an air-inflated dome or other covered roof structure would be accomplished.
Link Mar 2010: Edmonton to Ditch Natural Turf