Knight-Newbrough Field at University Stadium – Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
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Still Golden …
Although often considered the little brother in Waterloo, Ontario, what would become Wilfrid Laurier University was founded in 1911; forty-six years before the much larger, neighbouring University of Waterloo. The first football game played in Waterloo was when the university squad took the field in 1924. The program then went on an ascension tract. Highlighted by Vanier Cup victories as Canadian University National Champions in 1991 and 2005, the squad that was once known as the Mules would go on to become the Golden Hawks and would establish themselves as the centrepiece of the Laurier athletic program.
With a modest student population of 17,000, overshadowed by their much larger neighbours up the street, Laurier continues to play in the OUA, the Ontario conference of USports, the Canadian organization for university athletics. Home for the Hawks is Knight-Newbrough Field at University Stadium. The stadium was originally owned by the University of Waterloo and named Seagrams Stadium, after the local family of distillers who built their business into an alcoholic empire. Waterloo would walk away from the stadium in 1974 due to a perceived inability to financially maintain the stadium. After brief ownership by the city, the wayward stadium was purchased by WLU in 1992 and repairs would begin. Eventually the field would be named after Laurier legends Dave “Tuffy” Knight and Rich Newbrough who were among the small cohort who made their way north from West Virginia to build the athletic program.
Golden Hawk football remains the highlight of the Golden Hawks athletic calendar to this day. With a team that is normally competitive, Laurier has entrenched their place in school culture and, even after all these years, are still golden.
Food & Beverage 3
For a USports venue, the concessions are solid. There is nothing available that will blow your mind away, but the selection is decent and simple. The main concession is located beneath the grandstand. Popcorn ($3/$4), Cotton Candy, Chips, Nachos, Pretzels and Chocolate Bars are all available. Domino’s Pizza is also available by the slice ($4). Both the east and west end zones have a BBQ where hot dogs ($4.50), burgers, sausages and beverages are available.
Coca-Cola products are available in bottle in the end zones and in fountain form at the concession. Coffee, Tea and Hot Chocolate are also available for those cool fall days. The west end zone also features a licensed area where alcoholic beverages can be purchased. For the homecoming game, a separate ticket must be purchased for this area.
Built in 1958, University Stadium remains a throwback to facilities of old. The stadium features a single grandstand on the north side of the field that can accommodate 6,000 fans. A steel beam structure with wooden steps and benches is definitely something from the past. The benches are covered in purple and gold plastic and not too uncomfortable. There is plenty of slope in the stands to keep the sight lines good, with the lower part of the grandstand with a steeper slope. The press box and coaches box is at the top of the grandstand and really looks like it is from the fifties. The field turf field is surrounded by a six lane track which gives plenty of space for the Golden Hawks cheerleaders to lead the cheers and perform their gymnastic stunts. The age of the neighbourhood stands out with the massive, mature trees which line the south and east sides of the stadium. They also do wonders with regards to the wind. The west end zone features a simple scoreboard. New for the 2018 season is Hawks Vision, a portable video board which sits at the south side of the stadium and shows basic information as well as replays.
Attached to University Stadium is a permanent facility which houses a small gymnasium, ticket offices and therapy areas. The underside of the grandstand features large posters of great Golden Hawks, the preeminent of which is a photo of Tuffy Knight and Rich Newbrough meeting on the field. Recognition for the 1991 and 2005 National Championships is found on a sign just beneath the scoreboard. Although there is some history and school colours in the stadium, more could be done to showcase the strong past that Golden Hawk football enjoys. Nowhere in University Stadium are other Golden Hawks Hall of Fame members recognized nor are the 1972, 1973, 1978, 1987, 1991, 2004, 2005 and 2016 Yates Cups as Ontario Conference Champions.
The game day production is fairly simple. Predominantly student run, the music selections during the pregame are clearly geared towards current university students. The newly named Hawks mascot, Midas, patrols the sidelines and interacts with the cheerleaders. Student run promotions are also plentiful. Laurier is walking away from some of their traditions by scaling back the use of their traditional anthem “Country Roads, Take Me Home” by John Denver.
Wilfrid Laurier is an urban university located just up the street from another urban university. As a result there are a ton of great options for pre and post game meals. University and King streets are where one would find most of the options. There are a ton of great spots to get something to eat before or after the game. Some places one might consider checking out include Frat Burger, Smoke’s Poutinerie and Ethel’s Lounge. The on-campus pub is Wilf’s and offers a great atmosphere and food while being student run and managed. The place you probably should settle on, however, is Morty’s Pub. Home of arguably the best chicken wings in the city, Morty’s always satisfies your post game craving. Their chicken wings are legendary in the city.
As far as entertainment goes, there are a few options in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Fans planning on catching a Laurier game around Canadian Thanksgiving, could be able to catch Oktoberfest. This is the signature festival of Kitchener-Waterloo and the largest Bavarian festival outside of Germany. There are a number of great events that take place over the 10 day festival at a variety of locations including the numerous Fest Halls. Heading south on King Street toward Uptown Waterloo, fans will find a great spot for some evening entertainment in the Huether Hotel Jazz Room. One of the top jazz venues in the province, The Jazz Room offers weekend performances at a great price. There are also a number of pubs in Uptown Waterloo that feature live music.
If fans are interested in enhancing their sporting weekend then there are also a few other options. Wilfrid Laurier also fields other athletic teams specifically basketball at the WLU Athletic Complex and hockey at the Sun Life Financial Arena. Just up the road, the University of Waterloo also fields USports athletic programs. Fans will find football at Warrior Field, basketball at the Physical Activities Complex and hockey at the Columbia IceField. If willing to drive across town, then fans can catch the phenomenal experience of the Kitchener Rangers at the legendary Aud.
For fans who are planning on staying the night, the Comfort Inn on Weber St. N. is just a short walk from the Laurier campus and is a pretty decent place to stay.
Fan support for Golden Hawks football is a bit of a roller coaster affair. Weather, time of year, number of students on campus are all major factors for football attendance. Annually, the Homecoming game stuffs well over 6,000 fans into University Stadium. However, a late season game against a weak opponent can bring in less than 1,000. As with most USports programs, Laurier needs to continue efforts to engage students and get them out to the games, regardless of the date. There is no true student section at USports football games like there are at their American counterparts. Building a better relationship with current students and finding a way to make Laurier football part of their lives after graduation will go a long way to improving fan attendance overall.
Getting to University Stadium and around in not very difficult. University Stadium is located on Seagram Drive which runs between University and Albert Streets. Fans who are coming from out of town will have a decent drive through the city as the university campus is a fair trek southwest of Highway 85. Traffic on University Ave moves fairly quickly, so getting to the stadium should not be too much of an issue.
Kitchener-Waterloo is going through some significant construction as light rail transit is on its way. Until that point, there are a number of bus routes that travel along King St and University Ave. Check the Grand River Transit website for fares, maps and schedules.
Parking can be for sale in the stadium lot, however most spaces are reserved for season ticket holders and media. There is some parking available west of the stadium in the Granite Club parking lot, but be mindful of the signs as ticketing often happens for violators. With construction for the new light rail transit in the area, parking has been limited in this area. Parking can also be found on campus or in some of the University of Waterloo lots that are close to Seagram Drive.
The ticketing office is located in the permanent building under the grandstand. Other than that, there is no specific, grand entry gate. Security is present at 3 gates for entry which is more than ample for this facility and entry into the stadium is very quick.
The grandstand is very open and easy to move around. There is ample room underneath for moving from end to end or going to concessions. As expected, the grandstand does have a lot of stairs, however the general admission nature of seating offers the opportunity for patrons to minimize stair climbing. The washrooms in the permanent building are fairly small, but decent. Portable toilets are also brought into the end zones by the BBQs to help with high volume games.
Return on Investment 4
As compared to other USports football programs, Laurier is a little on the expensive side. Purchasing tickets in advance will get an adult a ticket for $20. Seniors and students are $17. Once again, children 12 and under are free. Parking can be found on campus for free and concession prices are decent. On the plus side, even the slightly expensive Golden Hawks offer a terrific return for a moderate investment. There are fewer and fewer sport experiences that can be had for this kind of money. Also, considering the Hawks only play four home games per season, a full season ticket is not a burden.
An extra mark for the continued nod back to West Virginia. The heart of the Laurier athletics program came north from West Virginia. Over the years, the Hawks have embraced John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as their anthem. Although the use of the song has diminished over recent years, when the Hawks won the Vanier Cup in 2005, it was John Denver that blasted over the PA.
An extra mark for Laurier announcer Chris Povey, who has done a fantastic job as the public address announcer for Laurier football and hockey for a number of years. Chris brings energy and enthusiasm to the game every time and does his best to entertain and inform the crowd, even if the game is not so interesting.
An extra mark for the interesting history of the Golden Hawks mascot.
An extra mark for the program that Tuffy Knight and Rich Newbrough put together and the honor of having the field named after these Laurier Legends.
There are not too many better things to do on a Saturday afternoon in the autumn than catch a good football game. A trip to Knight-Newbrough Field in Waterloo to see the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks is a solid experience for a fairly minor investment. Even after all these years, the Hawks are still Golden.
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Knight Newbrough Field at University Stadium
81 Seagram Dr
Waterloo, ON N2L 3B7
Year Opened: 1958