Canad Inns Stadium

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Canad Inns Stadium
Canadinnsstadlogo.png
Bomber Stadium.JPG
Former names Winnipeg Stadium (1953-2000)
Location 1465 Maroons Road
Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3G 0L6
Coordinates 49°53′22″N 97°11′54″W / 49.889570°N 97.198320°W / 49.889570; -97.198320Coordinates: 49°53′22″N 97°11′54″W / 49.889570°N 97.198320°W / 49.889570; -97.198320
Broke ground November 1952
Opened August 14, 1953 (1953-08-14)
Closed January 3, 2013 (2013-01-03)
Demolished April-August 2013
Owner City of Winnipeg
Operator Winnipeg Football Club
Surface Grass (1953-1987)
AstroTurf (1988-2002)
AstroPlay (2003-2012)
Construction cost $483,000 CAD
($4.24 million in 2014 dollars[1])
Architect Moody and Moore
Capacity Canadian football:
15,700 (1953)
17,995 (1954)
32,946 (1978)
33,675 (1987)
29,533 (1999)
Record attendance 51,985 (1991 Grey Cup)
Tenants
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) (1953-2012)
Winnipeg Goldeyes (NL) (1953-1964, 1969)
Winnipeg Whips (IL) (1970-1971)
Winnipeg Fury (CSL) (1987-1992)
Winnipeg Goldeyes (NL) (1994-1998)
Winnipeg Rifles (CJFL) (2002-2012)

CanadAInns Stadium (also known as Winnipeg Stadium) was a multipurpose stadium in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The stadium, which opened in 1953, was located just north of the Polo Park Shopping Centre and the former Winnipeg Arena site. Although built for football and the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the stadium also accommodated baseball and soccer, and was used by various iterations of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and Winnipeg Whips. The stadium was demolished in 2013 after the Blue Bombers moved into their new home at Investors Group Field.

History[edit]

During the Blue Bombers' early years, the team played at Osborne Stadium, a much smaller venue located near the Manitoba Legislative Buildings. The fast passing-dominated play of Bombers quarterback Jack Jacobs dramatically increased attendance at Blue Bombers games and precipitated the need for a new, larger stadium.

In the wake of several unsuccessful proposals for a new stadium, Winnipeg Enterprises Corporation, a newly created non-profit organization led by Winnipeg Football Club president Culver Riley, presented a plan for the construction of a new 15,700 seat stadium in the Polo Park district. Winnipeg Enterprises' plan was approved by the City of Winnipeg in August 1952.[2] Winnipeg Stadium was officially opened on August 14, 1953, with a fundraising gala to benefit the Winnipeg Unit of the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Foster Hewitt served as the master of ceremonies as 12,000 spectators watched an array of Shriners, athletes, politicians, and Hollywood actress Corinne Calvet inaugurate the stadium. The following night, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers played the first football game at the new facility against the Ottawa Rough Riders. The stadium became known as "the house that Jack built" in recognition of the contributions of Jack Jacobs.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers game at Canad Inns Stadium, August 2010

The on-field success of the Blue Bombers and their growing fan base led to numerous expansions of the facility beginning in 1954, when capacity was raised to 17,995. Of those seats, only 10,166 were on permanent concrete grandstands, with the remainder being temporary seating in the stadium corners. Further additions included the construction of new north end-zone seating in 1966 and expansion of the west side grandstands, including a new upper deck, in 1972. In 1978, the east side grandstands were expanded, with a new upper deck, raising capacity to 32,946. Seats were also added in 1987 when the stadium was configured to accommodate baseball, at which point its capacity peaked at 33,675. Astroturf was installed in time for the 1988 season, which the team welcomed with a Grey Cup victory that year in Ottawa at Lansdowne Park. The stadium's seating capacity remained at that level until 1999, when lower deck benches were replaced by theatre-style seats, the press boxes were enlarged and a club lounge added. Following those renovations, seating capacity was reduced to 29,533 and remained that way until the stadium's closure. The artificial turf was replaced by a new AstroPlay surface in 2003.

Winnipeg-based hotel chain Canad Inns acquired the naming rights to Winnipeg Stadium in 2001. From that time forward, the stadium was known as Canad Inns Stadium. In 2004, Winnipeg Enterprises was dissolved and operation of the facility was turned over to the Winnipeg Football Club.[3]

Baseball[edit]

The original baseball grandstands were built in 1954, at a cost of $184,000, and were located in the southwest corner of the complex. The grandstands housed the original incarnation of the Winnipeg Goldeyes as well as the Winnipeg Whips, the Triple-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos. The grandstands were demolished in the early 1980s to make way for the Blue and Gold Room and for nearly a decade, baseball could not be accommodated at the stadium.

The stadium once again became a multi-sport venue in the late 1980s. In an effort to attract a Triple-A club to Winnipeg, artificial turf, retractable seats on the east side stands, and new seating behind the home plate area (the northwest corner of the field, in the football end zone area) were installed. Although minor league baseball never returned to the city, the Rochester Aces of the independent Northern League moved to Winnipeg for the 1994 season, adopting the Goldeyes name. The Goldeyes played five seasons at the stadium, which included a Northern League championship in 1994 and an independent baseball single-game attendance record of 22,081 set in 1997. In 1999, the Goldeyes moved into their own ballpark, which marked the end of baseball at Winnipeg Stadium.[4]

Major events[edit]

The stadium hosted the opening ceremonies of both the 1967 and 1999 Pan-American Games. The 1967 Games saw the construction of new north end zone seating. The 1999 Games saw several improvements in preparation for the event, including new seats to replace old benches, additional media and club seating facilities, improved lighting and sound, and a new Sony JumboTron scoreboard.

The CFL's championship game, the Grey Cup, was held at the stadium in 1991, 1998, and 2006. In each instance, temporary seating was installed to increase the stadium's capacity. The stadium's attendance record for football was set at the 1991 game, when 51,985 fans watched the Toronto Argonauts defeat the Calgary Stampeders. For the 2006 game, temporary seats were erected at the south end of the football field, raising the Stadium's capacity to 44,784.[5]

The stadium also hosted numerous outdoor concerts, including big-name acts such as the The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, AC/DC, the Eagles and U2. Many outdoor music festivals, such as Rock on the Range, were also held at the stadium.

Closure[edit]

Increasing maintenance costs and the accidental death of a fan during a football game in 2006 intensified discussions on the future of Canad Inns Stadium. By 2009, it was estimated that the aging stadium would require over $52 million in upgrades as early as 2012 in order to make it safe and viable for another decade.[6] Faced with the decision on whether to refurbish the old stadium or replace it, the Manitoba government decided to move forward and fast-tracked financing for a new stadium. In 2010, Premier Greg Selinger, together with the Winnipeg Football Club and the University of Manitoba, unveiled plans to build $190 million Investors Group Field on the university campus in south Winnipeg. The stadium was slated to be completed in time for the 2012 CFL season, after which Canad Inns Stadium would be demolished.[7]

Canad Inns Stadium

In anticipation of the scheduled move to Investors Group Field, the Blue Bombers held a special ceremony to close out Canad Inns Stadium prior to their last regular season game of 2011. However, as construction delays at the new stadium pushed back its opening date by several months, the team was forced to return to Canad Inns Stadium for the 2012 season.[8][9] The Blue Bombers played their final game at the stadium on November 3, 2012, defeating the Montreal Alouettes by a score of 19-11.[10] The football club officially closed their offices at Canad Inns Stadium on January 3, 2013.[11]

Demolition[edit]

In June 2012, the city announced the proposed sale of the stadium to Polo Park Holdings Inc, a partnership between Cadillac Fairview and local developer Shindico, for $30.25 million. The sale was finalized in April 2013 and demolition began soon after. Unlike other stadium demolitions, no wrecking balls or explosives were used to bring the structure down. Rather, the stadium was dismantled piece-by-piece, beginning with the north end zone and west side grandstands.[12][13]

Prior to demolition, fans had the opportunity to purchase memorabilia from the old stadium, including seats, pieces of turf, and other equipment not moved to Investors Group Field. Other fixtures, such as stadium benches, were donated to local community clubs and sports teams.[14]

Polo Park Holdings, which already owns and operates neighboring Polo Park Shopping Centre and former Winnipeg Arena site, will convert the site to retail and commercial space, which will be called The Plaza at Polo Park. The development will be anchored by a new Target store, slated to open in 2014.[12][13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada. "Consumer Price Index, historical summary". CANSIM, table (for fee) 326-0021 and Catalogue nos. 62-001-X, 62-010-X and 62-557-X. And Consumer Price Index, by province (monthly) (Canada) Last modified 2013-12-20. Retrieved January 8, 2014
  2. ^ Lett, Dan (May 21, 2010). "Not much has changed since last stadium was built". Winnipeg Free Press. 
  3. ^ Winnipeg Football Club poised to manage Canad Inns Stadium
  4. ^ http://www.nlfan.com/winnipeg/deformity/
  5. ^ CTV.ca | Grey Cup organizers still hoping for a sellout
  6. ^ "Stadium money pit deepens?". Winnipeg Free Press. October 9, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sod turned for new Bomber stadium". CBC. May 20, 2010. 
  8. ^ Blue Bombers prepare for final game at Canad Inns Stadium
  9. ^ http://www.tsn.ca/cfl/story/?id=398451
  10. ^ Bombers set to move into new stadium, Slam! Sports, 3 November 2012 
  11. ^ Bombers set to move into new stadium, Winnipeg Free Press, 17 December 2012 
  12. ^ a b "Stadium demolition to get started soon". Winnipeg Free Press. April 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Canad Inns Stadium being torn down". Winnipeg Sun. April 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium sale includes urinal trough". CBC.ca. October 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Osborne Stadium
Home of the
Winnipeg Blue Bombers

1953 - 2012
Succeeded by
Investors Group Field
Preceded by
First stadium
Home of the
Winnipeg Goldeyes

1994 - 1998
Succeeded by
CanWest Global Park
Preceded by
Estadio José María Minella
Mar del Plata
Pan American Games
Opening and Closing Ceremonies

1999
Succeeded by
Estadio Olimpico Juan Pablo Duarte
Santo Domingo

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