Les Prince Field at Ron Joyce Stadium – McMaster Marauders
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Building A Football Legacy
The McMaster Marauders football team dates all the way back to 1901. Located in Hamilton, Ontario and currently competing in the OUA, Ontario’s conference in USports, McMaster University is a large school with an enrollment of over 30,000 students. Participating in football has been part of McMaster, named after the late Canadian Senator William McMaster who gifted $900,000 for the founding of the university, since nearly the beginning. Over that time, the Marauders have enjoyed a myriad of success. McMaster earned championships in the OIFC in 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963 and 1964. Upon moving to the OUA, Mac would fall on hard times but eventually once again taste success with Yates Cup victories in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Although they made the big game on three other occasions, it was 2011 where the sweet taste of victory would finally hit Hamilton with their 2011 Vanier Cup as Canadian National Champions.
The time would eventually come for McMaster to replace the venerable Les Prince Field. Named after the former coach and athletic director, Les Prince Field would remain the moniker for the new facility which opened in 2008. After a brief life at Ivor Wynne Stadium, former home of the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Marauders would move into their new digs, Les Prince Field at Ron Joyce Stadium. Ron Joyce was the co-founder of the massive Tim Hortons chain of restaurants and the original partner of Tim Horton himself. An adopted Hamiltonian and huge donor to McMaster, the new stadium would be named after Joyce after a large donation. The stadium is one of the best examples of a solid U Sports football facility and provides students, alumni and community members with a great facility to spend a fall afternoon watching the gridiron.
Food & Beverage 3
Concession options at Ron Joyce Stadium are about what one would expect from a football venue in the OUA. There is one main concession stand under the grandstand. This is operated by Paradise Catering and has a very limited variety of options. Hot dogs ($4.50), veggie dogs, sausage, chili dogs, hot beef sandwiches, nachos, popcorn ($2) chips and chocolate bars are all available. Soft drinks ($2.50) and water are also available. For fans of age who wish an alcoholic beverage, there is also a beer garden in the north end zone. The David Braley Athletic Centre is attached to Ron Joyce Stadium and there is also a Tim Hortons inside which is also available on game days. Concession stands operate as cash only, so a stop at the ATM before the game is in order.
Ron Joyce Stadium offers a solid atmosphere for watching U Sports football. Located on the campus of McMaster University and surrounded by student residences and other athletic facilities, Ron Joyce Stadium has a single grandstand on the east side of the field which offers a variety of comfort options for fans. The centre three sections offer reserved seating in traditional, plastic stadium seats. Two sections on either side of the reserved seating are mounded plastic benches with backs and the two farthest sections from the centre are flat benches.
The field at Ron Joyce Stadium is synthetic and runs from north to south. To the south of the stadium is the David Braley Athletic Centre, which essentially joins the stadium with the Ivor Wynne Centre, which houses the Burridge Gymnasium, home for McMaster basketball. The north end zone features a new video board and scoreboard. Ron Joyce Stadium has had a video board since the beginning, but it had fallen into disrepair and was in definite need of replacement. The field and stadium are encased with smart looking wrought iron fencing and the whole facility still has a fresh look to it even after a decade of use.
McMaster could do a better job of showcasing their football history in Ron Joyce Stadium. Although the McMaster Athletics Hall of Fame is in the David Braley Athletic Centre, major football accomplishments should be visible from the stadium. Along with a ton of football alumni who have spent time in the CFL, the Marauders can boast four Hec Crighton Award winners, the Canadian equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. The one exception is the notation of the 2011 Vanier Cup, which is on the fascia to the right of the press box.
The game day presentation at McMaster is decent. The McMaster cheerleading team leads the crowd in cheers and performs acrobatic stunts. Mac the Marauder, the McMaster mascot, can be found entering the stadium and on the field. The small, yet traditional, McMaster Marching Band performs the national anthem. In the past, the echo of the PA system has been horrible, however, it seems that there have been some improvements. McMaster usually features canned audio chants and cheers played over the PA.
McMaster is located in the Cootes Paradise neighbourhood of Central Hamilton, west of downtown. There are a couple of options in the immediate walking distance from Ron Joyce Stadium, but for the most part, you are going to have to hop in your car and head elsewhere. On campus you will find the TwelvEighty Bar & Grill which is owned and run by the McMaster Student Union. If you head just east of the university, to the Westdale neighbourhood, you will find a couple of interesting spots. Along King St W, you may want to try Basilique or The Snooty Fox.
Fans who are looking for other entertainment options in Hamilton will have to head closer to downtown. The Lincoln Alexander Centre and Hamilton Place offer a variety of concerts and shows. For something more family oriented, head just out of town to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, near the Hamilton Airport, just south of the city. There are also other sporting options available. McMaster fields a number of other athletic teams, including a strong basketball program that plays at the Burridge Gymnasium at Ivor Wynne Centre. CFL football is king in Hamilton, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats play east of downtown at Tim Hortons Field. You can also catch some OHL junior hockey at the FirstOntario Centre, home of the Hamilton Bulldogs.
For visitors are looking for a place to stay in the Hammer, then the Visitors Inn or Admiral Inn are options that are close to the McMaster campus.
Fan support for the Marauders is fairly average for the OUA. The Marauders will draw an average number of fans per game anywhere between 2,500 to 4,800. However, fan support at OUA football games is dependent on the weather and other special circumstances. Homecoming games are usually well attended. The fans in attendance at Mac are supportive of the home team and usually sit closer to the north end of the stadium where the Mac cheerleaders stay. Like most universities, McMaster needs to continue to find ways to engage the student body and community to ensure more consistent attendance.
Getting in and around Ron Joyce Stadium is not too difficult. McMaster is located west of highway 403 and north of Main St W. It is close to the highway for those who are coming out of town. The stadium is right on Michell Cres. on the McMaster Campus.
For fans who are looking for public transit to the stadium, HSR buses travel right into the campus at McMaster. Check out the HSR website for maps, fares and schedules.
There are a few surface lots on campus where fans may park. There is also plenty of parking below Les Prince Field. There is a cost and most lots require a ticket exit. However, the price is not way over the top and parking can be paid for in the stadium.
Tickets may be purchased at the mobile booth to the south of Les Prince Field. If you are planning on purchasing tickets on game day, make sure that you bring cash as there are no credit card services at Ron Joyce Stadium.
There is plenty of room under the grandstands for fans to move around without hindrance. The washroom facilities at Ron Joyce Stadium are also adequate.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for Marauders home games are very affordable. Reserved seating goes for $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. However, fans who are interested in saving money will be better off going with the General Admission options at $15 or $5 per person. Concession prices are about what you would expect and parking is available for $5 for those attending the event. U Sports football remains one of the hidden gems of the sports world. Great action on the field and a very reasonable price equate to a great opportunity for a family outing without breaking the bank.
An extra mark for the consistency in which McMaster has fielded strong teams since the turn of the century.
An extra mark for one of the nicest football facilities in the conference.
The McMaster Marauders have put a consistently competitive team on the field. In Les Prince Field at Ron Joyce Stadium, the Marauders have one of the best football facilities in the conference and easily one of the most comfortable for fans. It is clear that the Marauders are continuing to build their football legacy. The future continues to look bright.
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