Gordie Howe Bowl is a terrible stadium and it will be even after the renovations. I know its home to the Saskatoon Hilltops, the 834 time Canadian Junior Football champions but that doesn’t mean it’s a decent stadium.
The stands are a long ways away from the playing field and the seats are sloped well back. It’s more a saucer than it is a bowl which means that the stadium is quiet, even with a crowd full of cow bells and air horns.
The concessions are terrible which makes a bad game day experience worse., even if watching the Saskatoon Hilltops is always worth your time and money. For high school football, the size is too large even for frosh week or rivalry games. Even when attendance is goodl, half of the stadium is empty.
Proponents of Howe Bowl point out that the improvements (larger dressing rooms that no one uses), concessions, and field turf will make the game better. Field turf has shredded (63%) more knees (players hate it) and caused more concussions than decent grass ever has. The medical evidence for keeping players on natural grass is significant, especially since most high school seasons are done before the extreme cold hits (I know there are exceptions, I have played in them). By upgrading Howe Bowl and making it cheaper to maintain (our city’s m.o.) we are making it less safe for high school athletes.
The solution is to stop the fundraising for the stadium and move the Hilltops to Griffiths Stadium. As for high school football, construct metal stands on each high school field like they do in almost every other city in North America and have them play there. Most high school fields are in good shape and the addition of some bleachers means that home field would really mean something.
As for the Hilltops, it isn’t as if this is a big move as the Hilltops play late season games at Griffiths each season after the high school teams have destroyed the turf at the Bowl. Canadian championships have been won at Griffiths Stadium. It has history for both the Huskies and Hilltops not to mention city high school games and even the Charity Bowl.
Gordie Howe Bowl has a lot of tradition but there is no need to have a separate field for both the Huskies and Hilltops. The field is out of date and the upgrades will make it dangerous for players. It was a poorly conceived idea from the start.
Plus, this commercial makes a lot more sense when a high school actually has a “home field”.