National Post

Riders in ‘awe’ of new palace


- Murray McCormick in Regina mmccormick@ postmedia. com Twitter. com/murraylp

Craig Reynolds and Michael Fougere are a pair of homers.

Reynolds, president and CEO of the Saskatchew­an Roughrider­s, and the Regina mayor are justifiabl­y proud of new Mosaic Stadium, a $ 278- million facility that serves as the home to the Riders.

“I’m in awe of what we have been able to accomplish here,” Reynolds says. “We had a grand vision and some bold thinking. I’m proud of what we have here not only as an asset for the team, but also for the

province and the city. Every game day it’s exciting to see how much the fans are enjoying it.”

The official announceme­nt that the City of Regina, the Saskatchew­an government and the Roughrider­s were combining to fund the constructi­on of the stadium was made at halftime of a Riders game on July 14, 2012. Constructi­on started in 2014 at Evraz Place, just down the street from old Mosaic Stadium.

New Mosaic Stadium officially opened July 1 when the Riders played host to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Winnipeg edged the Riders 43- 40 in overtime before a soldout crowd of 33,350.

The Riders have continued to play before capacity crowds and have a 4-3 home record. They are expecting the stadium to be filled for their final two regular-season contests.

“The new stadium just has that big-time feel to it and I hear that all of the time,” Reynolds says. “It’s a world- class facility, so you feel like you’re walking into one that our fans deserve. Old Mosaic Stadium had its charms and history and we all had our memories there. We’re making new ones at the new stadium.”

The stadium’s amenities separ- ate Mosaic Stadium from other CFL venues. There is a sunken bowl and a partial roof, which were both designed to shield spectators from the weather and curtail the effects of the Prairie winds. The bowl and the massive video screen — essentiall­y the size of a basketball court — enhance the stadium’s big-time atmosphere.

“It’s so completely different from what we had in the past and in my mind it’s the best stadium in Canada right now,” Fougere says. “The feel of it is just incredible. When I go to watch a game, I spend half my time looking at the stadium and how beautiful it is.”

Fans have grown familiar with what the stadium offers during its first official season.

The wide concourse encircles the facility and is open to the on- field action. The outside wall of the concourse is lined with numerous food vendors offering a wide variety of food and drinks.

There are general admission and premier lounges, 38 corporate suites and a standing- room- only section that creates more opportunit­ies for socializin­g.

“I was fortunate enough that I visited 24 stadiums and arenas myself because I was involved in the process right from the beginning,” Reynolds says. “We took a lot of their ideas because they were from best- practice tours. Many of the ideas you see in our stadium are the ones that we took from those various tours.”

The Riders’ portion of the stadium is equally impressive. The franchise’s space is a total of 67,360 square feet, including 48,000 for football operations.

“First and foremost we wanted a world- class stadium and a worldclass team facility so we could recruit and retain players, coaches and administra­tors,” Reynolds says. “We’re hopeful that we’ll see more of that.”

The team’s facilities include an auditorium with 120 theatre- style seats, meeting rooms for each position, hydrothera­py room with three tubs, 5,400- square- foot training facility, players lounge, barbershop and state-of-the-art locker-room.

“The venue is incredible and it gives us every opportunit­y to prepare week in and week out,” says Riders receiver Rob Bagg. “The amenities that are here in terms of getting guys back on the field are big time.”

The Riders are the stadium’s highest profile tenant, but it’s for more than the CFL team. Minor football teams through to the University of Regina all play at the stadium.

The facility recently played host to an internatio­nal soccer match between the New York Cosmos and a team from Spain and a Guns N’ Roses concert.

“The vision for the city was to be the home to the Riders, but equally important was to be a community facility that’s accessible to other events,” Fougere says.

The next big football event on tap for the stadium could be playing host to a Grey Cup game. The stadium can be expanded to 40,000 seats for major events.

“Whenever you have a new facility you will eventually want to host a Grey Cup,” Reynolds says. “You don’t want to host it too early after opening because you want to get all of the bugs out. We tweak things after every single game because you learn things and there is a lot of technology in the stadium that you need some time with.

“From the CFL perspectiv­e, the 2013 Grey Cup game (at old Mosaic) was a huge success and they understand the asset that we have here.”

 ?? TROY FLEECE ?? With the new Mosaic Stadium, top, up and running, the Saskatchew­an Roughrider­s will look to host a Grey Cup in the near future after the 2013 CFL title game was played in the old Mosaic Stadium, above.
TROY FLEECE With the new Mosaic Stadium, top, up and running, the Saskatchew­an Roughrider­s will look to host a Grey Cup in the near future after the 2013 CFL title game was played in the old Mosaic Stadium, above.

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