Back in February, we looked back at how the CFL stadium landscape has changed in the last decade. Now it’s time to go even further back in time and look back at the old Stadiums that teams have called home in the CFL era.
Clarke Stadium – Edmonton Elks (1948-1979)
Home of Edmonton for over thirty years, Clarke Stadium had a football capacity of 20,000 and can still be seen today as a 5,100 seater soccer stadium. In its CFL days, Clarke Stadium was a very open stadium that featured two stands on either sideline and an oval-shaped playing field. Further stands were added in its later years, including two stands that were angled on the edge of the sideline and even some end zone seating.
Its replacement, Commonwealth Stadium, was built right next to it, giving Edmonton sports fans today two stadiums conveniently right next to each other. The modern Clarke Stadium has one behind the goal stand and two sideline stands with the larger of the two having blue seats. This means it matches the colours of its primary tenant, FC Edmonton of the Canadian Premier League, an arrangement that means Clarke Stadium should continue to be in use for a long time.
Empire Stadium – BC Lions (1954-1982/ 2010-2011)
In its short twenty-eight-year run as a CFL stadium, Empire Field hosted seven Grey Cups and was the first stadium west of Ontario to host the big game. The 32,729-capacity stadium was also the home of the 1954 Commonwealth Games, and was where Sir Roger Bannister ran the miracle mile, beating John Landy for the Gold in a race where both men ran a mile in under four minutes! When it came to watching football, Empire Stadium had joined up bowl-shaped seating that created a horseshoe shape with a further unconnected endzone stand giving it seated options from all angles.
The stadium was replaced by BC Place in 1983 and eventually knocked down but in 2010, it was given a new lease of life. In 2010 and 2011, BC Place was going under renovation and a temporary home for the Lions was needed. On the site of the now-demolished Empire Stadium, Empire Field was constructed and provided the team with a temporary home. Empire Field has a capacity of 27,528, it features a combination of the bucket and benches seating with a single-tier design with seating wrapping all the way around the stadium and was popular with Vancouver fans while it was home to the Lions. Even after the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS left for BC Place, the stadium still survives today, giving Empire Stadium a natural successor that’s still used to this day by Vancouverites for recreational use.
Mewata Stadium – Calgary Stampeders (1945-1959)
Mewata Stadium was home to the Stamps for just two seasons in the CFL era, but it will always be known as the Stamps’ first-ever home. The stadium was built beside the Mewata Armoury, a Canadian National Historic Site. The stadium itself had a modest capacity of 13,000, featuring just two stands on either sideline. With the Stampeders moving to McMahon Stadium in 1960, Mewata would eventually be demolished in 1999 and turned into a public park beside the Mewata Armoury.
Exhibition Stadium – Toronto Argonauts (1959-1989)
Exhibition Stadium was home to the Argos for thirty years, and during that time, was home to many iconic CFL weather games. Its close proximity to Lake Ontario and open design meant it was very susceptible to freak weather. Notably, it was the home of the 1962 Fog Bowl, 1965 Wind Bowl, and the 1982 Rain Bowl, all three were Grey Cup games. Initially, the stadium had just two grandstands, and a 33,150 capacity. But with the Toronto Blue Jays becoming tenants in 1977, the stadium was expanded and reconfigured.
A third end zone stand was added, bringing the capacity to 54,741, but changing the stadium for the worse. In order to accommodate the baseball diamond, the two sideline stands were no longer able to be parallel to each other, furthering the distance away from the action for many supporters. Indeed, unless you sat in the corners beside the east end zone, you now had a worse viewing experience for football games than you did before the renovation. The stadium was replaced in 1989 by the newly built Skydome which was now home to the Blue Jays and Argonauts, until 2016 when the Argos moved to their current home BMO Field, which was built on the same land as Exhibition Stadium.
Autostade; Montreal Alouettes (1968-1971/ 1973-1976)
Perhaps the most unique-looking stadium in CFL history. Autostade was built for the 1967 World Expo in Montreal and got its name from its financing, with five of Canada’s largest car manufacturers providing the funding for the stadium. Rather than having traditional-looking stands, it featured nineteen small stands surrounding the playing field. The reason for this was to make it easy to dismantle if necessary, but this never happened as it became the home of the Alouettes for eight seasons, and even hosted a Grey Cup in 1969.
The 33,172-seat stadium was located near the Saint Lawrence river which made it cold and because of its seating design, made it very vulnerable to the elements. Combined with its distance away from downtown Montreal made it unpopular with Als fans. The stadium was initially supposed to house the MLB’s Montreal Expos, but they ultimately decided to use Jerry Park instead because of concerns with the stadium’s viability for Baseball. The Als would soon join the Expos in moving to the Montreal Olympic Stadium, and the Autostade was demolished in 1979, bringing an end to one of North America’s quirkiest looking stadiums.
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