The stadium that was once home to CFL greats like George Reed, Ron Lancaster and Dave Ridgway is about to host its last championship.
Mosaic Stadium, home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football club, will host the 101st Grey Cup on Sunday.
Sure, there will be more regular season games at Mosaic, possibly playoffs too, but no more championships. The stadium will be torn down when a new facility is ready for the 2017 season.
Former Roughrider Steve Mazurak says he has a lot of fond about memories “about this great old stadium.”
“I was blessed with the fact that I was able to be a teammate of Ron Lancaster and George Reed,” said Mazurak, who played wide receiver and slotback from 1973 to 1981.
“To share a huddle with them and to stand there and go ‘Okay, there’s Ronny Lancaster, he’s reading a play and he’s actually calling my number,’ that gives me goosebumps right this very second.”
Former offensive lineman Gene Makowsky says the stadium holds a special place in his heart too.
Makowsky, who played for the Riders from 1995 to 2011, says the Labour Day matchups between Saskatchewan and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were always a lot of fun.
“The one memory I think that stands out is certainly the ‘07 Labour Day Classic. Certainly, the playoff games are the big games, but I still for some reason just remember the last drive by (former Rider quarterback) Kerry Joseph in the ‘07 Labour Day Classic,” Makowsky said in an interview in front of the stadium.
“It was a big game between two teams that were vying for first place and it was huge play. He ran 30 yards untouched in the endzone and the crowd just went wild. It was just amazing.”
Mosaic Stadium last hosted the Grey Cup 2003 when the Edmonton Eskimos beat the Montreal Alouettes in front of 50,909 fans.
Mosaic sits in an area of Regina known as North Central, near downtown. The stadium, that originally started as a rugby field in 1910, is known for wind that, as Mazurak says, will “knock your socks off” and old wooden bench-style seating.
It has undergone several upgrades over the years and extra seats have been added in the endzones for Grey Cup.
“But way back in the day, that what was we called ‘Hemorrhoid Hill.’ And so if there was an overload of crowd, they would put them on that hill and people would sit on the grassy knoll at the south end of Mosaic Stadium, of course then it was Taylor Field,” Mazurak said in an interview on the field.
“If the stands were full and the grassy knoll was full, then they would line people up along the sidelines here.”
Mosaic was place where Mazurak would go as a nine-year-old boy to watch the Riders and sit on rickety wooden benches in the north endzone, “probably for less than a $2 bill,” he said.
It was later the place where he played high school and junior football before becoming a Rider.
“(It has) a lot of warm feelings of fuzziness with me,” said Mazurak, who is now the team’s now vice-president of sales and corporate partnerships.
Mazurak says there are a lot of mixed emotions when he thinks about Mosaic being torn down, especially when he thinks about the history and the pride in the stadium. But he also says it’s time for a new facility.
“When they finally put the bulldozer to it, oh the quicker they can do it, the better. Then we can finally be what we want to be for our fans and that’s major league,” he said.
“Only through a major league venue can you really get to the point where you need to be for the whole game day experience.”
Makowsky is now one of those fans. He’s a season ticket holder who takes his children to games.
When Mosaic is torn down, long-time season ticket holders will find themselves in different seats, he noted.
“There’s been people that have sat in the same seats for 40 and 50 years, you hear that all the time,” said Makowsky. “So that’s going to be certainly an end of an era and it’ll be a little bit sad in a way, certainly, if you move along to the new stadium you won’t be sitting with your own section anymore, the people that have surrounded you for years and years.”
“But the old stadium served us well,” he added.