City & Politics, Sports

The final days of Taylor Field

At its Jan. 28 meeting, Regina City Council finalized and approved – with one councillor opposed – the funding and design work for the new stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The shovels are expected to break ground starting in 2014 and the stadium is expected to be complete and open by 2017 (which is also the sesquicentennial – 150th – anniversary of Canada).

With this approval, the Roughriders’ current home, Taylor Field, is living on borrowed time. And I for one will be somewhat sad to see this venerable and history-filled place levelled. Mind you, an expected 700 new low-income housing units will be built on the land in that area, but still, Taylor Field (or to be corporately precise, Mosaic Stadium) will be gone.

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The oldest parts of the stadium are said to be 70 years old, with the newest parts between 30-40 years old. According to engineering reports done a number of years ago, Taylor Field is still very structurally sound. That’s not surprising when you consider they actually built things to last back in the day, come hell or high water. The piles underneath the west side of the stadium alone must be 100-150 feet deep or more to accommodate the weight.

There are a few reasons why people are clamouring for a new stadium, so let’s look at a handful:
1)      It’s old
2)      The seats
3)      It’s old
4)      The bathrooms and food and beverage concession locations/size
5)      It’s old
6)      Saskatchewan (the province) is flush with cash, so let’s build now while we can
7)      IT’S OLD!!!

We live in a consumeristic, throw-away society, which says if something is not shiny or new, it’s gotta go. Taylor Field does have its warts and scars, but it’s also got character. I frankly don’t care if we have individual bucket seats, as that is not that important to me as a fan. I bring a seat cushion and I am set. Now mind you, if you are sitting next to the Stay-puft Marshmallow Man, it might be a problem. And considering much of Rider Nation wears extra-large (or more) jerseys, it’s probably a problem for a few fans.

To get to the upper deck on the west side, you need to walk up many ramps. And that means plenty of walking. I don’t mind the walk since I know it will partially even out the three hours of sitting and burger eating I am about to do. But people complain about everything these days, and when you have to walk up and up and up, and you haven’t invested in a decent pair of walking/running shoes since the days of Van Halen or Nirvana, of course you will huff and puff. Suck it up,

I do have a problem with the bathrooms. There is NO hot water coming out of those pitiful taps/dribble rings. The water is freezing cold. The last time I remember any type of warmth to the hand-washing water station was probably back in the mid- to late-‘90s when I first started attending as an elementary school kid. Even then it was lukewarm. I can’t imagine how sanitary the seats must be after people come back from the bathrooms. Yick.

The projected cost of the new stadium is $278 million. You know that price tag will rise over the next three years due to a variety of factors. The cost of materials will definitely go up over time based upon demand from various sectors in the province for similar materials. Cost overruns will pop up somewhere during the construction phase. You can call me a pessimist all you want, but let’s look at it this way: the conversion of Regina’s 12th Avenue from driving to whatever it is now was more than $3 million over budget. With a massive concrete stadium, what can we expect from that?

The City of Winnipeg recently built a new stadium for the Blue Bombers. It was supposed to open by the start of the 2012 regular season. They said it wasn’t ready but it would be open by Labour Day. That didn’t happen either. It should now be ready for the start of this season.

They said weather was to blame for the delays. That’s understandable. The Prairie environment is a harsh beast and varies from day to day. Mind you, the contractors working on that stadium probably quit working when the mosquitos became too much to handle.

The new home for the Riders will NOT have a roof or dome on it, which is frustrating many people. And that’s understandable, too. If they are going to build a new facility, why build a clone of what we have? Let’s do this right and put either a fixed or retractable roof on the thing. That way, instead of being in use to the public for eight to 12 games per year, the city will be able to use it all year round for everything from concerts in December to trade shows in April. You can’t do that now, not with the winters we receive and the amount of cold and snow we get.

Do the Roughriders need a new place to play? Does the City of Regina need to rack up more debt? Do I really want to be saddled with paying higher taxes because of this? Do fans need individual bucket seats and escalators to get them to their seats? Well, based on city council’s nearly enthusiastic response to this project, the answer is yes.

(As an interesting factotum, the new stadium for the Riders is expected to be situated in an east-west position. Currently it is situated north-south. In Hamilton they are about to demolished three-quarters of the stadium and pivot it so that it runs north-south. This means the new Regina stadium will be the only one in the CFL to run east-west position-wise. I wonder how that will affect the kicking game considering the wind is always a factor here?)


Jason Antonio is the Regina correspondent for Spectator Tribune.

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