There’s still an entire season of football to play at the old Mosaic Stadium before it’s shuttered for good, but the farewell began on Saturday.
At least 150 people arrived for the kick-off, with Mayor Michael Fougere making remarks to the crowd, then letting them loose on the myriad of activities, entertainment, and free food. It was a celebratory atmosphere, if a little subdued.
While wandering around the field, and looking up at the stadium around them, most people thought of the Grey Cup in 2013 when asked about their favourite memory – but Jonathan McIvor decided on the Labour Classics.
McIvor has had season tickets for 12 years, collecting lots of memories over the years. He said it’s sad to think about the old stadium being torn down.
“Right now I don’t really think about it, but when it’s going to happen it’s going to be different for sure. I don’t know what they’re going to put here, but there’ll be some memories definitely going down.”
He’s still excited about the new stadium though. He said he’ll be moving his season tickets over there, saying he can’t wait.
“It’s not going to feel as home because it’s a lot bigger, but we’ll get used to that, that’s no problem.”
Running across the field in front of McIvor, decked out all in green, was Atlanta Gallinger. She’s 10 years old, but says she’s only missed two home games in her entire life.
“I’ve been coming to the Rider games ever since I was … I don’t know how long … I’ve been coming for a long time. I basically grew up around the Riders.”
She likes to put together costumes for the games, and will be donning a cape along with her tutu this year.
Gallinger is one of the many fans who love the old stadium, and she said she’ll be sad to see it go.
Speaking to media, Fougere said there are good and bad things about being the mayor during the transition.
“You’re leaving behind a stadium that has over 100 years of history in our city, and it’s a bit of a sad time but we move forward to a bigger and better stadium.”
Fougere also made sure to mention the man the stadium was originally named for, Neil ‘Piffles’ Taylor.
“The fact his name is still on the stadium, it’s still Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium, is important to recognize that, because it’s part of the legacy of a great stadium.”
In thinking about the old stadium, Fougere said the biggest thing about it for him are the fans.
“This is open air, this is not a spectator roof, but it is so loud here – when you go to Championship games or Grey Cup games, it is so loud you can’t even talk to the person next to you.”
Different things in the old Mosaic stadium will be donated to other organizations, and Fougere said no further decisions have been made on whether some things are going to be moved to the new stadium, or what fans will have a chance to get a piece of.