Sunday, 2 October 2016

New Mosaic gets “A” grade

Rams down Huskies 37-29 in first game at new stadium

Rams LB Michael Stefanovic cuts off Huskies RB Tyler Chow.
    REGINA - It is safe to say the 16,500 patrons that took in the first event at new Mosaic Stadium were satisfied to say the least about Saskatchewan’s new state of the art sports facility.
    The host University of Regina Rams and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies engaged in the first contest and overall event held at new Mosaic on Saturday afternoon before a record crowd to witness a Canada West conference football match. The attendance mark broke the previous football record of 10,199 for a match between the U of Manitoba Bisons and the U of Alberta Golden Bears at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg on Aug. 30, 2013.
    The clash between the Rams and the Huskies also surpassed the overall attendance record for a Canada West contest, when 12,859 spectators took in a men’s hockey match between the U of Calgary Dinos and the Mount Royal University Cougars on Jan. 21 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
Part of the crowd of 16,500 that attended the Rams vs. Huskies clash.
    Until Saturday’s contest, the largest attendance for a university level football game in Saskatchewan since the Rams joined the Canadian Interuniversity Sport ranks in 1999 came back on Nov. 25, 2006.      
    On that day 12,567 spectators crammed into Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon to see the host Huskies fall to the Universite Laval Rouge et Or 13-8 in that year’s Vanier Cup.
    New Mosaic Stadium gets an “A” grade for its first event. As far as the fan experience goes, there were small quicks like the fact it was hard to hear the public address system in the end zone seats and the massive new big video screen wasn’t working yet to provide replays.
    With that said, there isn’t a bad seat in the house that cost $278-million to build. The site lines from any spot in the facility are great. It is also nice to sit in a sizable theatre seat as opposed to being crammed on to the bench seats of old Mosaic Stadium.
Rams QB Noah Picton throws the first TD at new Mosaic.
    The spot that received the most compliments was the standing room area in the south end zone. If you are on the lowest level of that space, it feels like you can reach out and touch the play. It is also in perfect position for players to attempt a “Lambeau Leap” after scoring a touchdown.
    It was easy to move along the spacious concourse area with the exception of the one corner where a big beer selling and barbeque food area was set up. There was more than ample washroom space as well, which was something that obviously lacked at old Mosaic.
    With that said, there were the odd fans in one men’s washroom that joked they would miss the troughs that existed in the old stadium.
    Saturday’s game also provided a little glimpse as far as atmosphere goes at least on a possible CFL level. It was easy to see that the majority of the fans that came to the Rams/Huskies game were mainly fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and maybe only casual fans of the university game. Their obvious first purpose was to see what Roughriders new home would look like.
    That curiousity was share by a number of Roughriders players who were also present for the CIS clash.
    Most spectators that attend Rams or Huskies football contests lean more to being university football fans first and CFL fans second.
Rams receiver Ryan Schienbein scores the first touchdown at new Mosaic.
    The influx of new spectators provided a rare opportunity for the Rams and Huskies to showcase the university game to a new audience. The two teams did not disappoint.
    The game’s first half contained a myriad of spectacular offensive football plays, which saw the Rams take a 24-18 lead into the halftime break. The first touchdown at the new stadium came courtesy of an 11-yard catch by Rams receiver Ryan Schienbein from quarterback Noah Picton near the midway point of the first quarter to give the hosts an early 7-0 edge.
    The newcomers apparently liked what they saw and most stuck around for the second half, where the Rams surged ahead 37-18 by the end of the third quarter and held off a Huskies fourth quarter rally to pull out the 37-29 win. The victory allowed the Rams to remain first in Canada West at 4-1, while the Huskies remained in fifth place at 2-3.
The standing area was a hit at new Mosaic.
    The teams made errors inside of the contest’s final two minutes, but ardent university fans were the ones that mainly moaned about those mishaps.
    Picton’s reputation has grown as the CIS season has progressed as possibly being a CIS most valuable player candidate, and he gave the new spectators a show completing 29-of-42 passes for 370 yards, four touchdown passes and two interceptions. Schienbein was the favourite target hauling in 13 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
    The fans seemed to be draw into the game, and you could feel the crowd noise. The wave also started up in the fourth quarter to provide another nice touch.
    There is a realistic relation that this might be the only university football match many of the newcomers - who mainly watch CFL clashes - will take in for some time.
The Rams celebrate their victory at new Mosaic.
    If even a small percentage decide to attend future Rams and Huskies home games, that development would be a good bonus.
    Now the wait is on for new Mosaic’s big test, which will be the first time it hosts a Roughriders game. Thanks to Saturday’s university contest, the first CFL game has a huge head start on being a big hit.

    If you have any comments to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to