Recently The Commisioner of The CFL Mark Cohon had an article on TSN.ca giving a state of the union address on the league. It was in that article that he boasted that the CFL hadn't been this healthy in many years. He pointed to people being drawn to the Grey Cup in record numbers as well as swelling attendance and T.V. numbers to which teams and league revenues have also showed positive growth. However from where I sit the largest sign that the league is thriving is a sudden construction boom to renovate old stadiums and the replacement of others. This more than any other fact clearly points to a league that is not only viable and stable but is a prosperous commodity. There are numerous stadium projects that are either currently underway or in the works all across the league. Currently 6 of the 8 teams are involved with various stages of stadium renovations. Lets start West and go across the league for a closer look.
B.C. Place - After a very successful 2010 Winter Olympics host BC Place has been shut down for the remainder of the this year and part of next to dismantle and reconstruct their air filled dome. The roof on B.C. Place was the worlds largest cable supported roof but the maintenance to keep the roof inflated as well as replacing the panels from damage was too great and it was time to make changes to keep the stadium viable for the next 40-50 years. The Lions have moved to Empire Stadium for the season and the roof retrofit should be complete in time for either next season or The Grey Cup that B.C. is holding in 2011. I myself have been to that stadium and I found the air to be dank and drab you could absolutely tell that it was artiificial air. Add the fact that the acustics were some of the most terrible sound that I have ever heard of any proffesional barn anywhere. It will be a welcome change for football fans and concert goers alike.
Commonwealth Stadium - Opened in 1978 the crown jewel of open field arenas in The CFL got it's first makeover in 2001 to be ready for the 2001 Pan-Am Games but upgraded concession stands don't even stand close to the upgrade they just completed this spring. That major reno would be the removal of the last grass field in The CFL and with it some of the mystique to the playing surface. Over the years there have been coaches quoted as saying that the footwear mind games have won The Green and Gold a few games. Well starting this year we'll see for real how the teams stack up now that their on the same "footing". If this had happened ten years ago before there was the new field turf this reno never would have happened. However the turf technology has come quite far making the new turf not only as safe as old grass but the upkeep is next nothing compared to keeping real grass watered, cut and kept in good football playing condition. This upgrade like BC Place above will also add a plus to more outdoor shows and overall increased usage of the facility. That is the noteable change but there is also a new field house being built on the south end of the stadium housing the offices of The Double E which were currently down the street as well as new locker rooms. They have also okayed the replacement of the faded orange seats with dark Edmonton Eskimo Green colored seats to be completed this coming offseason. As a season ticket holder at this stadium I'm excited for the changes.
Mosaic Field (Formerly Taylor Field) - The fact that The Rider faithful are contemplating replacing the 83 year old Mosaic Field is one of the most startling notions. Not the fact that it needs it but simply that they are in discussion with their private and political sector to see what kind of stadium they could be and what would be best as far as it pertains to football games as well as other events like concerts, farm fairs and rodeos. So for once instead of settling for second best there are parties involved that have thought that a domed stadium would be the best and most responsible route. Of course that thought has it's detractors but there's no doubt that a domed football arena is not only a smart thing for November football in the heart of prairie land but it genuinely makes this a multi-use facility. For that forsight I applaud those forward thinkers. There was a bit of selacious news that The Native American Seminole Tribe would get in and help fund part or all of a new stadium with obvious concessions to add a casino and that has also divided The Rider populace. If it were me I would try and avoid the quick sexy fix and just take sometime and figure out the best meassure for which themselves to push forward. Regardless I would say that Regina is still 2-3 years away from getting a shovel in the ground but's positive to see them recognize the need and start brainstorming ideas. Good job Wheat Kings, you may not get a dome but you need a new barn so buckle down and get it done.
CanadInns Stadium - I'm not hating on The Blue and Gold but honestly CanadInns Stadium might be the worst building in the league. It is small, tall and windy. It houses only 29, 533 people but with the leg room it feels more like they're stuffing those 29,000 into 25,000 seats. Winnipeggers and The Bombers alike have acknowledged this and as of the beginning of this month of May they are in the ground building a brand new 33, 000 stadium that can expand to 40, 000 during Grey Cup years. The project should be complete for the 2012 season which should be exciting for both The Blue Bombers and University of Manitoba Bisons which will also share the facility as it is being built on the south end of the campus. This is a great coup for the City of Winnipeg, The Bombers and The UofM and all the denziens and fans of both teams. Congrats folks can't wait to visit.
Ivor Wynne Stadium - Honestly this is the only stadium that I have not had the pleasure of seeing a game at. So the condition of the stadium I cannot comment on but I do know that it has been the home to The Tiger-Cats since 1950 making it quite old and likely in need of certain ammenity upgrades. However in this day and age no one wants to retrofit a 60 year old football stadium and nor should they. With Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe hosting the 2015 Pan-American Games the time is now for Owner Bob Young and The Tiger-Cats to get while the getting is good. There will be money to build a new stadium but the opportuinity will only come around once. I have a read a couple of articles that have Mr. Young and the city planners involved with the project at odds over size and location of the stadium. The quote that I read said that Bob Young felt that the current proposal would be a finnacial disaster to the team in the future. I can only imagine that Hamilton would want to build a stadium for the up-coming games as well as for future other community events. However I just don't think it would be wise to avoid the fact that The Tiger Cats will be the primary tennant after The Pan-Am Games. Not taking this into serious consideration could be a very large mistake down the road. You can say I'm looking at it from a slanted view but I'm sorry; what good does building a stadium of any kind do if you don't have a team or franchise to occupy it and create revenue. This all may be a large case of chest puffing to make sure that all parties ideas and wishes are taken into consideration but the people and politicians owe Mr. Young a great deal. He has been floating that team for a half a dozen years and you have to figure that no matter how big a fan he is of The Tabbies he'll pull the plug the first second he realizes that he will never see dollar one back for all those he's already lost. Rich people don't get rich throwing money away. I hope both sides sit down and hammer this one out cause till then Hamilton will continue getting skipped in The Grey Cup hosting rotation.
Molson Stadium - The City of Montreal, The Alouettes and McGill University have also got into the act and have added 5000 seats and 18 private boxes to Percival Molson Stadium. At a cost of $29 million the cost will be shared by many backers; from the provincial government, the owner and the city. I think this is the final piece of the puzzle for "The Jewel of The CFL East" This football mad province and city deserve to have a good facility and have stepped up to support that squad by basically filling their house since they left the cavernous confines of Olympic Stadium.
This is an exciting time for Canadians and CFL fans alike, our league, governments and franchises have heard our call and noticed us walking through the turnstiles in record numbers and so these projects are not just being built for rich owners to get richer but they are being built because the players and fans of The CFL deserve the best. To those cities that have yet made any kind of official decision as to when, where and how, just have a look at your neighbouring province or city these stadium upgrades and rebuilds are being funded privately, publicly and politically. There is no reason that The CFL can't have the best, and for some of the cities mentioned above they already do!