Winnipeg Stadium (now known as Canad Inns Stadium) is a football
stadium located at 1430 Maroons Road in Winnipeg
. It sits directly across the street from the Winnipeg Arena
, and just to the north of Polo Park Shopping Centre. Its official capacity is listed at 29,502, but this number may increased by adding temporary bleacher seating for sporting events or floor seating for concerts. The stadium is owned by Winnipeg Enterprises Corp., who also owns the Winnipeg Arena.
During the summer, the stadium plays host to the home games of the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The CFL championship game, the Grey Cup, has been played at Winnipeg Stadium twice, in 1998 and 1991.
The stadium has also hosted home games for both incarnations of the Northern League's Winnipeg Goldeyes (1954-64 and 1994-98). Local sports writers from the Winnipeg Sun dubbed the stadium "Deformity Field," as its dimensions were hardly suited for professional baseball. The Goldeyes moved to the new Canwest Global Stadium, located in downtown Winnipeg, in 1998.
The stadium has been a venue for two Pan Am Games in 1967 and 1999, the defunct professional soccer team the Winnipeg Fury, as well as numerous amateur and youth sport events. Winnipeg Stadium also has served as a stage for major concert tours. Among the acts featured in the last 10 years are the Rolling Stones, U2, Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd. Prior to completion of the new fairgrounds, the Red River Exhibition -- Winnipeg's answer to a state fair -- wrapped itself around the stadium's north and west parking lots, and used the interior of the stadium itself for free concerts.
Construction of Winnipeg Stadium was completed in 1953. The stadium as dubbed "The House That Jack Built," referring to the success of the Blue Bombers under the leadership of quarterback "Indian" Jack Jacobs. The original capacity was 19,600, but improvements were made for the 1967 Pan Am Games, and additional seating was added in 1972 and 1979.
Winnipeg Stadium was one of the last remaining CFL stadiums to use grass as a playing surface, but the economics of artificial turf forced the WEC to tear up the grass in the late 1980s. In 2001, the naming rights to the stadium were sold for $10 million (CDN) to hotel chain Canad Inns, which operates almost a dozen hotels and bars in the city.
While attending high school, I lived less than a half-mile from the stadium. Whenever major events were held there, I could clearly hear the crowd's roar or, if a concert was taking place, the music.
I've seen numerous Bombers games at the stadium. As it's an open-air stadium, winters can be rather unfriendly to players and fans alike. On cold days (sometimes as cold as -20C before wind chill is factored in), crowds are expected to keep themselves warm with blankets, hot chocolate and/or (heavy on the Irish) and spirit.
During important games, when the seats are packed, the crowd riles itself up with a unique alternating chant of "East side sucks!/West side sucks!" Typical Canadian politeness -- more willing to shout slurs at your fellow fans across the stadium than at the opposing team. In the mid-80's, a scoreboard operator actually was fired for posting "B.C. Sucks" following a playoff game which put the Bombers through to play the British Columbia Lions
I played on the turf of the stadium a handful of times, for high school football games. As any sports fan can attest to, there's something mystical about setting foot on the field of your heroes. My only highlight from those games, unfortunately, was a fumble recovery against Maples High in the dying seconds of the Red Feather Game (a charity game featuring all the high school football teams in the city).
Stadiums by Munsey & Suppes - http://www.sfo.com/~csuppes/CFL/misc/index.htm?../Winnipeg/index.htm
The Official Site of the CFL - http://www.cfl.ca/
Winnipeg Enterprises Corporation - http://www.wpgenterprises.ca/stadium.htm