While we’re still a few weeks away from the start of the NFL 2010 season, the CFL season is in full swing. I recently has a chance to take in my first ever CFL game a few weeks ago when the Grey Cup Champion Montreal Alouettes hosted their home opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (and yes, I meant to post this last week but life got in the way. So sorry.)
Follow me after the jump for the lowdown on Percival Molson Stadium.
Simply put, I couldn’t think of a nicer place to have a football game. The downtown stadium was recently expanded to 25,000 seats, and while I cannot speak from experience I have to think it beats watching a game in half-empty Olympic Stadium. Molson – or McGill Stadium, as it’s also referred to – was built in 1914 and underwent a number of facelifts over the years to accommodate university football and Olympic field hockey, among other things. The Als began playing there in 1998. While it may be hard to tell from the pic above, there is some stunning architecture to behold around the stadium.
My little guy shared the experience with me. We had an afternoon downtown: bookstore browsing, an early supper at the Eaton Centre, a mini-spending spree at Lush and then decided to walk to the game. We figured it was about a 15 to 20 minute walk to the Stadium from University at Rue Ste.-Catherine. This leads me to my first piece of advice – keep the car at home and take public transit. There is NO PARKING at the stadium. Sure, you could take your chances with finding a place to park on the street, or spend an arm and a leg paying for underground parking. But why complicate your life? Just get on one of the shuttle buses or take the Metro.
I also recommend getting to the stadium as soon as the gates open. It gave us plenty of time to get to our seats (which took a while as I didn’t realize you actually had to go outside to access the upper level of Section M), snag some souvenirs, watch the warm-ups and grab some beverages.
Fan wear was reasonably priced – in fact, I found a nicer Als hat for Bee Jr. for about $5 less than I would have paid at Capsule Sportive. I also loved that you could purchase clothing with the old Alouettes logo. Which of course I did.
Concessions are what you would expect at any sporting event – popcorn, hotdogs, pizza. You can get smoked meat – after all, this is Montreal – but I highly recommend holding out for a sandwich at Schwartz’s on St.-Laurent (if you don’t mind waiting in line for a table.) A bottle of water at the stadium will cost you your firstborn, and we didn’t spot any drinking fountains. I advise discreetly packing water if you’re bringing young ones along. We did and had no issues bringing it in our backpack. Your selection of beer consists of…well, Molson Ex. If there was anything else I didn’t see it.
We had terrific seats in the upper level, close to the endzone but far enough away from it that we had a decent perspective of the game. The fans were terrific – we had a large group of Ti-Cats fans behind us who were heckled politely (we are Canadian, after all) and who wore these fantastically ugly but awesome Hawaiian shirts plastered with the Ti-Cats logo. Of course, we also had a green body-suited assclown who kept serenading the crowd with his dreadful vuvuzela skills. At least he moved around. It saved him from a painful fate involving his vuvuzela, his ass and my seething rage.
Oh, did I also mention that the announcements are en français? Ben, oui, c’est Montréal! What did you expect? While English is spoken in La Belle Province, the official and prevalent language is French. Make sure you know some basic French or bring along a bilingual friend. That said, don’t be intimidated by the language factor. Montreal is a fantastic city rich in history, culture and art. Also, it’s a great place to buy shoes!
Back to the game: it was decent, although I was disappointed Hamilton didn’t make it close. The final score was 37-14 Als. My kid had a ball – 9 years old seems to be a good age to bring a kid to a football game (and if he gets to hang with his big city cousin of the same age, even better!)
Sure, this is a hockey city. But since you can’t catch the Expos anymore, why not take in some CFL football at Molson Stadium? Unlike the Ti-Cats, it’s not like the Alouettes are in danger of going anywhere any time soon.