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The home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has a long and proud history. From its earliest days as a simple Rugby field to its current stature as home to the 1995 and 2003 Grey Cups, Mosaic Stadium certainly has a storied past.
The first Rider teams played on the field of Park Hughes (located at the current Mosaic Stadium site). Families would come and circle the rugby field to watch the games. Over the years, temporary seating was put in place for fans, but many came and chose to sit on the grass and watch their favourite team.
In 1927, to accommodate the growing number of fans, Park Hughes and the adjoining Park de Young were reconfigured to provide a better venue. More seating was added, but spectators still showed up and parked their cars at the touchline to watch the action.
In 1936, a number of improvements were made to the field to make the fans more comfortable. Gone were the days of fans sitting along the sideline or jostling for position to see the action. New seating was built to accommodate the growing crowds. Also, a new press box was built and facilities were provided for radio broadcasts of the games.
In 1946, another major improvement was made to Park de Young. Prior to that year, the field at the site had never had turf. Each season, a new load of topsoil was dumped on the field to make it playable. Due to the dry Saskatchewan summers, the park became a dustbowl by the end of the season. But in 1946, the Regina Recreation Board agreed to seed the field to provide a quality surface for games to be played.
The year 1947 marked the renaming of Park de Young. The year before, Neil “Piffles” Taylor passed away. An instrumental part of the early development of the Roughriders, Taylor had been a player, coach, and executive for the team since its founding. Following Taylor’s sudden death at the age of 48, the City of Regina renamed the Riders’ home, Taylor Field.
In 1948, a $47,000 investment was made to build a 4,500-seat grandstand on the west side of the playing area.
For the next several years the stadium remained relatively unchanged. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s when it was agreed that it was time to move Taylor Field into the future. A major renovation was done to the stadium, which included the addition of a second level to the west-side grandstand, new offices and dressing room facilities as well as new artificial turf. The renovations allowed the Riders to move all operations into Taylor Field. It was a major step forward for the team.
In 1988, the Roughriders replaced the first artificial turf with a new type of system called OmniTurf. Unlike AstroTurf, OmniTurf was an inlay turf system, which relied on 300 tons of sand to hold it in place (rather than the traditional glued-down system). Over the years, a number of problems occurred with this system and it eventually became necessary to replace it prior to its usable age being reached.
In 1995, the Roughriders’ hosted the Grey Cup for the first time.
In conjunction with this, a number of renovations were needed for the stadium to meet the Canadian Football League standards. The existing press box area on the west side of the stadium was renovated resulting in a new area called Club Seating West.
The area was built as a VIP area for the Grey Cup and later became corporate seating for the Riders. Because the new Club Seating area was built, displacing the media from their old seats, another area was needed as a media centre for the championship game. A new Club Seating East area was built on top of the existing east side stands. It was used to house all the visiting media for the big game. Following that, it was split, creating a new Roughrider media centre as well as more corporate seating for the organization.
In 2000, the Roughriders undertook a new turf project. In anticipation of hosting the 2003 Grey Cup, the team began to search out funding to replace the old OmniTurf. Due to great support from the community, the project was accomplished a year ahead of schedule and the new AstroTurf was in place prior to the beginning of the 2000 CFL season.
In preparation for the 2003 Grey Cup, temporary stands were built in the north and south endzones, enabling the grand ol’ stadium to hold 51,000 spectators for the 91st Grey Cup championship on November 16th.
With a windfall of just over $2 million in revenue from that Grey Cup, as well as an on-going share offering to its fans, the Roughriders have begun to use this new capital to leverage funds to enhance the stadium even more.
Plans were unveiled in December, 2004 to upgrade the facility and take the stadium into the future.
A state-of-the-art video board, sponsored by SaskTel, was unveiled in time for the 2005 season. The SaskTel MaxTron enabled the Roughriders and their fans to watch replays, be entertained and bring the CFL franchise in line with the other member clubs.
A new sound system was also installed in 2005 as well as many other improvements to the east side, including washrooms, concessions and refurbished seats. In the south endzone, a VIP deck and stands were put in place for the start of the 2006 season, allowing the football club to host its corporate game day sponsors.
Prior to the 2007 CFL season, the Roughriders and the City of Regina partnered together to have FieldTurf installed at Mosaic Stadium. The upgrade to the playing surface has already brought forth numerous benefits to not only the Roughriders but all local amateur football teams who utilize the facility.
As more upgrades to the stadium are planned, the football club, in conjunction with The City of Regina, embarked on a 10-year journey with a global, yet grassroots partner in Mosaic Stadium back in 2006. Now, the place where so many legends have played, will be known as Mosaic Stadium.
The football club will also pay tribute to the stadium’s first namesake, Piffles Taylor, by way of reconstructing the monument at the stadium entrance in order to bring more attention to this important figure in Roughrider history. Most recently the name of the street in front of the stadium has been changed to read “Piffles Taylor Way“.
Without question, the home of the Green and White will continue to remake itself to meet the needs of the League, the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club and its fans. But no matter what changes lie ahead, the history and appeal of Mosaic Stadium remains unmatched in the CFL.