Former Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver Bakari Grant caught the first-ever touchdown pass at Tim Hortons Field back in 2014, then caught the second-ever major at the grand opening of new Mosaic Stadium in Regina last Saturday.
Some would call christening two new state-of-the-art facilities “lucky” but the current Saskatchewan Roughrider sees it differently.
“In Hamilton, I had to go through Guelph, McMaster, bus-over-here, play-over-there, no home field,” Grant said, laughing. “And I played in Ivor Wynne. So I earned playing in something really, really nice.”
And it is nice. The $278 million stadium features 33,000 seats, 38 suites and a video board – the MaxTron – that’s 40 yards long, making it the largest in the CFL and the equivalent of watching more than 500, 60-inch TVs stacked together.
Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros said he’s looking forward to checking out the new digs and facing the typically hostile environment.
“It looks awesome. Football is important out there and I get that flashback from when I was in college, you go into these towns and everybody hates you, yelling at you,” he said. “It’s always exciting.”
Grant said the environment during last week’s opener was spectacular.
“The thing that’s crazy here is that every time you think it can’t get a little louder, it gets a little louder,” Grant said. “As soon as you give them a towel wave or a hands-up, they’re into it.”
The stadium was built by Canadian construction giant PCL and designed by HKS Architects, the firm behind AT&T Stadium in Dallas, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
It was funded in part with provincial and municipal money but the team – which is community owned – is also contributing more than $40 million with another $100 million coming from ticket surcharges. In other words, the team and its fans are picking up a hefty portion of the cost.
And after delays and legal issues plagued both Hamilton and Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, new Mosaic was completed on schedule, on budget and there is no pending litigation.
Grant says there is one shortcoming, however.
“Nobody has really used the barber shop yet and here’s the thing: the lighting in there is a little low – and there’s no barber,” he said. “ But I do my own hair and I don’t think anyone else would trust me to do theirs.”