Stretching from Manitoba all the way to British Columbia, western Canada is a large, diverse, and spectacularly stunning part of the world. In the world of Canadian football, its U Sports teams have a lot in common with their CFL counterparts. Five of the six Canada West teams play in the same city as a CFL West Division team. Furthermore, three of the six Canada West stadiums are shared with CFL teams, so the stadium rankings in this article will work a little differently. The three stadiums used in the CFL will be ranked separately from the teams who play in stadiums exclusive to collegiate sports. So with that out of the way, let’s get started!
COLLEGIATE ONLY STADIUMS
3. Thunderbird Stadium – UBC Thunderbirds
Thunderbird Stadium is a 3,411 seated arena that features an almost oval shape design in which the football field itself is encased. This unique shape has allowed Thunderbird Stadium to host Australian rules Football, but the stadium is used mostly for soccer and football. For those wanting to watch a football game, the one grandstand is considerably far back from the action because of its awkward shape. The stand has a little bit of colour, but I just feel like it’s missing something to help make it stand out more. But the bowl shape is still a cool feature, and I’m sure fans of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds don’t mind it when the T-birds win!
2. Griffiths Stadium – Saskatchewan Huskies
The second-ranked stadium on this list, Griffiths Stadium is the largest collegiate-only Stadium in Canada West with a capacity of 6,171 seats spread over two stands. The stands are this stadium’s biggest plus, particularly the two-tired east stands that features the team name “Huskies” along the top tier, a feature not seen by any other Canada West stadium. The other stand is also impressive to go alongside it. The black endzones contrast greatly with the green playing field giving the turf a smart look. The stadium is somewhat let down with the running track, which creates a more distant viewing experience for spectators. In previous U Sports stadium articles, we have seen sides incorporate their team colours into their running tracks, its a shame to see the Huskies not go down this route also. But maybe they will one day, and regardless, they still have a fine stadium!
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
1. Foote Field – Alberta Golden Bears
The most northern U Sports football team in Canada, Foote Field has been home to the Golden Bears since 2001. Although small, with just 3,500 capacity, Foote Field is a very colourful Stadium wrapped in Golden Bear identity. It has very brightly colourful yellow endzones, and an eye-catching striped playing turf complete with a simplistic yellow ”A” at the centre makes the surface look amazing. It has two stands, giving fans the option to watch from either sideline and the smaller sideline is raised so to give the option of watching at an elevated level if they choose so. The other stand is appropriately green and gold in colour. The scoreboard is the icing on the cake for a stadium that shows you don’t have to be big, to be impressive. Foote Field has the overall edge on Griffiths Park because its stands are much closer to the action, owing to the stadium not having a running track and giving fans a more intimate experience.
3. McMahon Stadium – Calgary Dinos
Owned by the University of Calgary since 1960, the Dinos can for sure claim to be the primary tenant of McMahon Stadium which they share with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. McMahon Stadium has its fair share of critics, with people often criticizing its barebones look and over-simplistic design, harkening back to its 1960 opening. But McMahon stadium is a great place to watch college football. Its two imposing stands provide plenty of choice for seating and including the University of Calgary name and coat of arms is a nice touch. Talks of replacing McMahon are never too far away, so it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the history of McMahon. But as of now, it remains the homes of the Dinos.
2. Mosaic Field – Regina Rams
This will be controversial, in an earlier article ranking the CFL stadiums, Mosaic Field took the number one spot ahead of IG Field. But it was a very close decision, and I think when you look at both stadiums in a U Sport context there is a key difference. Firstly the positives, the outside of the stadium has a really colourful green and white wavy pattern which immediately tells you who play here by tying into the colours of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Regina Rams. The roof is a really impressive piece of engineering, with a curved design that’s meant to prevent the accumulation of snow. The roof doesn’t go all away around, but the exposed stand at the end zone is built below ground level to offer protection from elements such as the wind, and it’s a design feature I really like as it makes the stadium stand out as its own. The all-green seats top it all off and overall, it really is a beautiful stadium. But if you took someone to the stadium and asked them who played there, they would only tell you the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Regina Rams were the first-ever team to host a game at the stadium, but none of the identifying marks within the playing field or seats showcase that the Rams play there. It may be nip-picky, but Mosaic and IG Field (spoiler) are both so good in quality that ultimately it came to the littlest of details.
1. IG Field – Manitoba Bisons
Home of the Bisons since 2013, IG Field is a really impressive, first-class stadium. It has seating that wraps around the whole stadium, which is rare in the U Sports landscape. Despite the stadium’s colour scheme not always matching that of the Bisons, the dark blue seats serve to give the stadium an intimidating look and unique look. The roof over the two sidelines stands out as a big plus with its stunning design, and the exterior as well even looks impressive with its incorporation of bricks. Just like McMahon, The University of Manitoba’s name and coat of arms is represented in an end zone and its nice detail of team identity allows it to be ranked just above Mosaic Field to be Canada West’s best U Sports stadium.
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