Tim Hortons Field – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
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Oskee Wee Wee, Oskee Waa Waa
It echos through the hearts and minds of Hamiltonians everywhere. “Oskee Wee Wee, Oskee Waa Waa, Holy Mackinah, Tigers! Eat ‘Em Raw!!” Anyone who has ever been to a Hamilton Tiger-Cats game can’t help but notice the infamous chant which is unique to Hamilton.
The Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats are finally comfortable in their home since 2014, Tim Horton’s Field. Built as part of the Pan-Am Games of 2015, Tim Horton’s Field replaced the iconic Ivor Wynne Stadium, which stood on essentially the same spot. The modern day Tiger-Cats were founded in 1950 when they joined the CFL, however they can trace their roots back as far as 1869. The merging of the Hamilton Tigers and the Hamilton Wildcats in 1950 to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats would create the team that is now known by CFL fans.
The Tiger-Cats boast 8 Grey Cups as CFL champions, which does not include championships won by either the Tigers or Wildcats. In 2004 the financially struggling Tiger-Cats were purchased by computer entrepreneur and native Hamiltonian Bob Young. Referring to himself not as the owner, but caretaker of the Tiger-Cats, Young has endured the difficulties that the city and team have put before him. Now comfortable in their home, the fans of the TiCats are making their presence felt and ensuring that the Tim Horton’s Field experience is a great one.
Food & Beverage 3
The food selections at Tim Horton’s Field are about what you would expect for a venue in this league. The selection is decent, but there is not too much that will blow you away. Hot dogs ($6), sausage, pulled pork, chicken fingers, poutine, nachos, fries, popcorn ($5.50), caramel corn, beer nuts, chips, candy and ice cream are all available. Pizza is provided by Pizza Pizza ($5.25). Prices are a bit on the high side. Tim Bits from Tim Horton’s are also available. The majority of concession stands offer the same menu, so you will not need to travel all over the stadium to find something specific.
Soft drinks are provided by Coca-Cola in fountain form ($4.25/$5.50). There are also some products that are available in the 500 mL bottles. Tim Horton’s coffee, hot chocolate, tea and iced caps are also available throughout. The beer selection is also pretty limited with Molson Canadian and Coors Light available on tap ($7.75/$11.25). In the Coors bar there are a few different brands available including Coors Banquet, Creemore and Heineken. Ciders, coolers and wine are also available in various locations.
With the completion of Tim Horton’s Field, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats now present an atmosphere to their fans that they deserve. The exterior of the stadium is visually appealing with stone and siding. The stadium is fairly open with huge meeting places to the north and south of the stadium. The south square also offers some inflatable fun for the kids. The Tiger-Cats have highlighted their history throughout the stadium and it starts outside, with part of Cannon Street renamed Bernie Faloney Way. One of the biggest changes from Ivor Wynne Stadium is the 90-degree turn of the stadium to give the field a north-south orientation.
Basically the interior of the stadium seating is made up of the east and west grandstands, both of which feature two seating decks. The grandstands offer great sightlines for the game and like Ivor Wynne, they are very close to the field as compared to other CFL stadia. The upper deck is fairly steep and also offers a neat view of the city. If you look to the north you can see the ArcelorMittal Dofasco steel plant and beyond that the Burlington Skyway and Lake Ontario. On a clear day you can see across the lake and make out the unmistakable Toronto skyline. To the south there is a nice view of “The Mountain,” a set of nice residential neighbourhoods in Hamilton.
The north end zone features a huge, crystal clear video board which offers great replays and a ton of football info. The north and south end zones feature alternative seating options. In the north the Coors Light Patio offers high tables and seating, as well as standing room, in a general admission fashion. The south end zone features the Seagram Touchdown Lounge and Pioneer Endzone Terrace. The lounge features sectional seating and is a great spot for a group outing. The terrace is just behind the lounge and is a great meeting spot or standing room area.
Continuing to embrace their history, the northwest end zone features flags honouring Bernie Faloney and Angelo Mosca and their numbers 10 and 68 respectively, which are the only numbers retired by the Tiger-Cats. The west grandstand facade features the Tiger-Cat Wall of Honour inductees which include John Barrow, Willie Bethea, Less Browne, Tommy Joe Coffey, Grover Covington, Bill Danychuk, Rocky DiPietro, Bernie Faloney, Jake Gaudaur, Tommy Grant, Garney Henley, Ellison Kelly, Bob Krouse, Pete Neumann, Paul Osbaldiston, Ralph Sazio, Vince Scott, Don Sutherin, Earl Winfield, Ben Zambiasi, Joe Zuger, and the infamous Angelo Mosca. The Tiger-Cats need to do a better job of commemorating their eight Grey Cup Championships.
There are no banners or flags that are visible for these important mementos. Inside the concourse, the pillars feature a number of key moments in Tiger-Cat history, but the Grey Cups need to be honoured within the seating bowl.
During the game, the Tiger-Cats have done a great job embracing tradition and attempting to come up with new traditions. They have embraced the entire working-man/Steeltown image. The game begins with a guest pulling the chain on the huge steam whistle in the northeast corner of the stadium and the PA announcer proclaiming that “It’s time to go to work!” The Ticats broadcast a pre and post game show from the Pioneer Energy Zone. TiCatsTV Live gives fans some analysis with Wall of Honour inductee Paul Osbaldiston and John Williams naming his Steel Mill Cowboy awards for the game and brandishing a sledgehammer hitting the anvil. The Tiger-Cat Cheerleader and mascot TC do the usual activities.
Possibly the greatest Hamilton institution however is Pigskin Pete. The derby-wearing mascot dates back to the 1920’s. The Tiger-Cats now have their fourth Pigskin Pete, who travels the stands and leads the fans in the truly Hamilton Oskee-Wee-Wee chant. Another Tiger-Cats tradition is the unveiling of a massive Canadian flag during the singing of O Canada. The flag is so huge that it takes up nearly the entire field. On many special occasions, Tim Horton’s Field will welcome a fly over from one of the planes from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
As Ivor Wynne Stadium was, Tim Horton’s Field remains a neighbourhood stadium. There are very few food or lodging options within walking distance of the stadium and most of the surrounding neighbourhood is residential. King Street and Barton Street offer some chain fast food options. Your better option is to try downtown about 5 km away and find a spot in Hess Village. The Gown and Gavel is a great choice. Other choices near downtown Hamilton include Mezcal, Wendel Clark’s Classic Grill and Bar, The Works, or The Ship. However, all are a drive away from the stadium.
There is not much in the way of other entertainment options right near the stadium. Again, you are going to have to find options in other spots of Hamilton. Downtown features the FirstOntario Centre, home of the Hamilton Bulldogs. The FirstOntario Centre and Hamilton Place offer a number of concerts and shows year round also. Just past downtown is McMaster University. The Marauders play football at Ron Joyce Stadium, and they play basketball in Burridge Gymnasium.
There are no hotels right near the stadium so you are going to have to head downtown. There are a few options but a solid one would be Sheraton Hamilton which is right by Jackson Square.
The Tiger-Cats have been rewarded for the completion of Tim Horton’s Field with fantastic fan support. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Tiger-Cats have averaged over 24,000 fans per game. Within the CFL, this puts the Tiger-Cats just below the middle of the pack, however the percentage of capacity filled is around 98%. The fans in attendance at Tim Horton’s Field are loud and proud. Cowbells and horns can be heard throughout the stadium and the “Oskee Wee Wee” chants with Pigskin Pete are louder and prouder than ever. The Tiger-Cats now have a true home field advantage and there is not much more that TiCat fans can do to improve.
Access to Tim Horton’s Field remains an issue for the team. The surrounding neighbourhood retains some construction and some changes to the neighbourhood are coming in the future.
Tim Horton’s Field is located in the residential neighbourhood of Stipley. It is a fair distance from major highways and requires driving through the city on central streets. It is located east of Highway 403, west of Red Hill Parkway and significantly south of the Queen Elizabeth Way. Patrons who are driving will be required to travel on King or Main to get to the stadium and that can be slow going at times. Thankfully both are one-way streets for a good chunk and make traffic flow at a decent pace most of the time.
There is some public transit that operates around Tim Horton’s Field. The number 1, 2 and 3 buses travel King, Barton and Cannon streets. Game days also offer some Park and Ride Lots at various spots in the city with express buses travelling to Tim Horton’s Field. Public transit is free on game days with a valid game day ticket. More information can be found at the HSR website. Look under the “Living In” tab for a link to the HSR schedules and maps.
Parking around Tim Horton’s Field can surely be precarious. Many of the lots surrounding the stadium are pre-sold to season seat subscribers. There are a couple of lots for cash payment, but they can be hard to find. Many local residents will rent their driveway or yard for game day parking. Parking will probably run between $15 and $20.
The main ticketing gate can be found at the southeast corner of the stadium at Balsam and Cannon. The large square here allows for decent movement around the ticketing area. There are four main gates to the stadium at each of the four corners of the stadium. Each gate has a corporate sponsor and is indicated on the ticket. Entry is not too bad.
Inside the stadium, there are definitely too many stairs. Patrons are required to ascend from the field level up to the concourse level. Fans in the lower grandstands will then be required to descend from the concourse to their seat. There are elevators, however they are not overly efficient in the grand scheme of things. Tim Horton’s Field would definitely benefit from some strategically placed escalators. The washroom facilities are more than adequate for the stadium also.
Return on Investment 3
The Tiger-Cat experience can be a bit on the expensive side. Regular seats for Tim Horton’s Field can run from a high of $99 to general admission on the patio for $27. The upper deck seats are on the expensive side with tickets for the sides going for around $50 and prices jump significantly from section to section. Ticketmaster fees will also apply. Concessions are on the expensive side and at the very least, parking can be precarious. The return from the Tiger-Cats is pretty good. Currently, the product on the field is top notch and the atmosphere and fans make for a great evening. CFL football offers a fast-paced, wide open style that can definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.
An extra mark for one of the great rivalries in sport. There is nothing the Hamilton faithful love more than beating the hated Toronto Argonauts. The annual Labour Day Classic played in Hamilton each year is the top ticket for the season. Labour Day is the signature day for the CFL and the two teams have been squaring off for decades on this national holiday.
An extra mark for Tiger-Cat season seat subscribers from Box J. In Ivor Wynne Stadium, the most ardent TiCat supporters sat in Box J. At Tim Horton’s Field the Honorary Box J has been set up in Section 103.
An extra mark for the excellent job the Tiger-Cats have done embracing their tradition and attempting to create new traditions as opposed to just following trends.
An extra mark for the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Alumni Association which does a fantastic job of keeping the history of the Tiger-Cats alive with their fantastic website.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are continuing to provide a great experience for fans in the Hammer. Although the location of Tim Horton’s Field is not the greatest, once inside and part of the Tiger-Cat experience, fans will be having a great time. By the end of the game, even first time fans will be joining Pigskin Pete and screaming at the top of their lungs … “Oskee Wee Wee, Oskee Waa Waa …”
Crowne Plaza Hamilton Hotel & Conference Center
150 King St E
Hamilton, ON L8N 1B2
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