Great debut at Alumni for Cats

Ticats first game in Alumni Stadium Photo: John & Eddie Sokoloski via Hamilton Tiger-Cats facebook page

Ticats first game in Alumni Stadium [from the Hill looking west]
Photo: John & Eddie Sokoloski via Hamilton Tiger-Cats facebook page

I went to the Tiger-Cats vs Blue Bombers exhibition game on Thursday night more to check out the revamped stadium and game day experience than the game itself. I couldn’t agree more with the headline from The Scratching Post blog: Ticats get the Guelph thing right.

I came away very impressed with what the Tiger-Cats have done to make Alumni Stadium a great venue for a CFL game. I’ve attended Ticats’ games frequently since the mid-seventies. My first-ever football game experience was a Ticat intra-squad game in 1967. I saw some great games at Ivor Wynne but I’ve never had as much fun with the “social” part of a Ticat game. The expanded perimeter of the stadium made for plenty of clean, open space that just didn’t exist at Ivor Wynne. It does make me very hopeful that the expanded footprint of the new Hamilton stadium will allow for the same thing.

With virtually no traffic problems and parking easy to find close by some of the greatest concerns of Hamilton fans and Guelph citizens seem to be put to rest. All that may be needed for the Ticats’ season in Guelph to be a great success is for the team to win a few games. If the Cats are competitive and fighting for a playoff spot I can see most of their “home” games being played in front of a sold-out Alumni Stadium.

I wasn’t the only one who came away impressed. Virtually every media report I heard was equally positive. On Friday afternoon I listened as Bill Kelley and John Salvantis [Hamilton’s 900 CHML] raved on about their impression of the previous night’s game. I started writing down the superlatives they were issuing … “It was fabulolus. Just outstanding!” … “the experience inside the gates … truly incredible” … but I couldn’t write fast enough.

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I see lots of great takeaways from this experience for the University of Guelph and its Dept of Athletics. This season can also help the Gryphon football program. If the excitement of playing in Alumni Stadium translates as well to the TV screen as I believe it will, this can only boost the growing profile of the program. Add in a sold-out Homecoming Game and a home playoff game or two, all televised nationally, and 2013 could be a big year. A Yates Cup game in Alumni would be the icing on the cake. I just hope the University and Dept of Athletics are fully prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.

Guelph has a growing reputation in CIS football. A parent of one of the CIS transfers set to join the Gryphons this summer told me that Guelph’s “football culture” is part of what prompted his son to choose to continue his CIS career in the Royal City. The Ticat presence here with all the attention from national football media can only boost the idea that the University of Guelph is one of the premier places to play college football in this country.

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Below are some of the links that will be of interest to Gryphons fans:

From Drew Edwards’ Scratching Post blog: Ticats get the Guelph thing right

Rob Massey provides a Guelph perspective in the Mercury: Reserved Guelph crowd welcomes Ticats in debut CFL game. Massey makes the point that the crowd was relatively  quiet, not even beginning to reach the decibel level of Homecoming Games.

A crowd of 12,732 watched the first CFL game at the stadium. It was gussied up and the temporary stands looked like they might have been given a polishing before the game.

During halftime, fans crowded into the food court areas where they could get almost anything that struck their fancy from cotton candy to burgers and dogs to corn. No excuse to go home hungry.

From the Hamilton Spectator, Steve Milton focuses mostly of the game itself: First live action in Guelph produces many revelations. There is a video report and among the revelations:

8. Alumni Stadium is going to work. There are all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies in the plaza area and there’s a lot of grass for relaxation, beyond the south end zone.

And the Mercury reports that even Guelph Police have a positive report: Ticat fans pass Guelph police test

Police report responding to 95 incidents Thursday between 4 p.m. and midnight with only four being related to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football game at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium.

There was one public intoxication arrest at the stadium, one public urination incident nearby on the university grounds and two pocket dials in the vicinity, a Guelph Police news release states.

And finally the Mercury has comments from former Gryphon Kyle Walters, Asst GM of the Bombers: Former Gryph coach likes vibe at Alumni stadium

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