In a previous article ranking the current CFL stadiums, I mentioned that the stadium landscape had changed dramatically in the league. In as short a span as ten years, there have been five stadiums that have either been replaced or no longer host CFL matchups. They may be gone, but they all left a mark on the league and leave us with great memories of great football games gone by. Without further ado, it’s time to look out of our best pair of nostalgia goggles and look back at the stadiums that helped make our beloved game what it is.
Part 1 – The stadiums still standing
Rogers Centre – Toronto Argonauts (1989-2016)
Better known as “The Skydome”, Rogers Centre was opened in 1989 and has been the site of many of Canada’s most iconic sporting moments over the past thirty-plus years. Four Grey Cups have been held there, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders 43-40 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Grey Cup 1989 is considered one of the greatest CFL games of all time.
The Argos themselves managed championship glory, lifting the Grey Cup at home against Calgary in the 2012 Grey Cup centennial game that Rogers Centre had the honour of hosting. The stadium also hosts MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays and was the site for their World Series Wins in 1992 and 1993.
The stadium itself is very impressive, situated by The CN Tower, it is an iconic part of Toronto’s skyline. It was the first stadium to ever have a retractable motorized roof and can hold as many as 52,230 fans for football games. The Argonauts moved into their new home BMO Field in 2017, removing Rogers Centre from the league for now. It was recently announced that the stadium will undergo renovations, giving the stadium new life and will hopefully be home to many more iconic moments.
Olympic Stadium – Montreal Alouettes (1976-1986 & 1996-2012)
Home of the 1976 Olympics, six Grey Cups, and nine of the ten most attended games in CFL history, The Olympic Stadium was the home of the Als from 1976-1986 and when the Als returned to Montreal, they called the Olympic Stadium home once again.
The stadium has a soured reputation. A poor playing surface, multiple problems with the roof and over forty years of bad press have all contributed to the stadium’s infamy, culminating with a construction bill of well over a billion dollars. From 1998 to 2012, the Als only played part-time at the stadium, mostly using it for playoff games. But the issues with the roof continued to plague the stadium. Without significant renovation or a replacement roof, the current roof is deemed too unsafe for the stadium to be used in the winter months, making it unusable for the CFL playoffs.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
The Alouettes have found themselves a home they like in Molson Stadium, but if the Olympic Stadium does get a brand new roof, perhaps it could make a return to the CFL.
Part 2 – The Stadium’s no longer with us
Taylor Field – Saskatchewan RoughRiders (1936-2016)
Originally a baseball park, Taylor Field went on to be the home of football in Saskatchewan for eighty years. Taylor Field had a very unique look and with its four odd-shaped stands and colourful seats, it held a special place in the hearts of Rider fans for generations.
The stadium has been home to many big games on Labour Day and in the CFL playoffs and has even hosted the Grey Cup three times. Most notably in 2013 when the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders played host the Hamilton-TigerCats.
In front of a crowd of 44,710, the Riders gave Taylor Field its greatest night as they won the Grey Cup by a score of 45-23. On October 29th, 2016, Saskatchewan played their last ever game at Taylor Field, marking the end of an era for football in the prairies.
Canad Inns Stadium – Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1953-2013)
With its blue colour scheme and two dominating sidelines stands, Canad Inns Stadium (formally Winnipeg Stadium) was the home of the Bombers for sixty years and the move in 1953 lined up with the beginning of a golden era in Winnipeg. They made the Grey Cup six times in their first ten seasons in the new home, winning the cup four times.
Like its prairie neighbour Taylor Field, Canad Inns hosted the big game three times and from 2004 to 2013, it was the host of the highly anticipated Banjo Bowl between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. By 2006, rising maintenance costs made it more practical to build a new stadium.
In November 2012, The Bombers won their last game at the stadium 19-11 against the Montreal Alouettes, before ushering in a new era at Investment Group Field. Before its demolition, fans were able to buy memorabilia from Canad Inns, such as seats and turf, allowing fans to hold on to lasting memories of the Bombers’ old home.
Ivor Wynn Stadium – Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1950-2012)
A stadium that was older than the tenants themselves, Ivor Wynne was opened in 1928 as Civic Stadium and hosted the Hamilton Tigers. The stadium began hosting games for the Hamilton Wildcats in 1941. Eventually, the two tenants merged to form the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1950.
Ivor Wynn had a chequered yellow and black design giving it a unique look and its location inside a Hamilton subdivision gave it a special place in the hearts of TiCats fans. In 1972, the TiCats won their fourth Grey Cup in nine years in front of a raucous home crowd. Many important games have been held there and it was even the site for a 38-21 Tiger-Cats victory over the Buffalo Bills, the first and only time a CFL has defeated an AFL/NFL team.
Such was the popularity of Ivor Wynn’s location, their new home Tim Hortons field was built on the exact same land as Ivor Wynn, a fitting tribute to a Hamilton institution.