by Staff Writer – Jason Langvee
The kick off to the 2012 CFL preseason on June 13th at Ivor Wynne stadium was nothing short of a jarring experience. Having been fortunate enough to be present at the preseason game between the Tiger-Cats and the Argonauts, I was part of a sold-out crowd as Hamilton begun its final year at the stadium. While many questions hang in the air regarding the team’s future home, it is safe to say that this final CFL season will; honour, commemorate and immortalize the stadium which has remained constant in the city of Hamilton for more than 80 years.
Ivor Wynne stadium was erected in 1930 and was monikered the “Civic Stadium”. The purpose of the stadium was to house the British Empire Games. This monumental event was the first international athletic event ever held in Canada. At that point in time the stadium was designed to hold a maximum occupancy of approximately 2,000 spectators. It was not until 1950, prior to the official debut of the CFL, that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats begun calling the stadium home. For those unaware of CFL history, 1956 was the first glimpse of a Canadian Football organization known as the CFC. It was not until 1958 that the CFC gave way to the Canadian Football League. Thus, the then – Civic Stadium, predates the CFL by nearly a decade.
In its time as the oldest stadium of its kind in Canada, Ivor Wynne Stadium has experienced a turbulent reputation to say the least. A year after the formation of the CFL, league officials decided that 2,000 seats simply were not enough. In 1959, approximately 15,000 seats were added to accommodate the growing popularity of Canada’s football league. In 1970, the Civic Stadium was renamed “Ivor Wynne Stadium” in honour of Ivor Wynne and his accomplishments with McMaster University and the city of Hamilton.
Between the years of 1959 and 1970, very few changes took place at the stadium, leading many to consider it as the worst in the league. American television opted to stop televising all games played in Hamilton, as they felt the stadium portrayed a negative image that the Canadian Football League was trying to void. This prompted the city of Hamilton to pour efforts into revamping one of the great stadiums back to its former glory. Since 1970, continual effort have been made to bring the accommodations of the stadium to current status, while leaving the historical integrity alive and well in the walls of the celebrated stadium. Currently, the Ivor Wynne Stadium has a seating capacity of approximately 29,600.
There are no set plans as to where the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be moving following the 2012 season, but if the preseason kick off was any indication as to what we can expect this year, fans are in for a real treat. The energy at Ivor Wynne pulsated through every seat. Fans were gripped from the fireworks player entrances right until the last seconds of the fourth quarter. It would also be foolish to think that Hamilton doesn’t have any big plans for this season, and we are all waiting intently to see what exactly they might have planned before the departure.
As for the future of Ivor Wynne, much is still unknown, but don’t expect the stadium to be going anywhere. The organizers of the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto have announced that with some renovations, the stadium could be an ideal soccer venue. Ivor Wynne Stadium represents the hard working, blue-collar city in which it is found, and Hamilton is known to not give up anything worthwhile without a fight.