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100 Ideas to Improve Saskatoon: 5. Give up on Gordie Howe Bowl

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.

Gordie Howe Bowl

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  The field is out of date and the upgrades will make it dangerous for players.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”.

3 Comments

  1. Al Neufeld says:

    Jordon, your information is wrong. Injury numbers are about the samefor both grass and turf. Numerous studies have proven this. Concussions are not caused by the turf, but by frontal hits and whiplash. As for sightlines, yeah I’ll give you that one. The football community had recognized the need for turf for over 30 years, yet the city keeps trying to get rid of its responsibility for the facility. If you want to see a great stadium for high school. See Liebel girls in Regina. It’s awesome.

    1. Jordon says:

      The NFLPA really disagrees with you. ACL injuries are 67% higher on turf over grass. Several prominent players have come out and said turf is horrible to play on because feet don’t slide away but stay planted.

      Several of he studies that say that injuries are the same are funded by artificial turf companies and are not peer reviewed and don’t use data from high quality grass playing surfaces to compare and contrast.

      The University of Missouri turfgrass expert found that on a 98-degree day at MU’s Faurot Field the surface temperature on the synthetic grass was 173 degrees. Nearby natural grass showed a temperature of just 105 degrees. That should be a lot of fun to play on for day games for the Hilltops.

      There is a reason why teams have left field turf, despite it’s lower cost, it is injuries. Field turf is cheaper to maintain but it comes with a cost… knee surgeries.

      1. Al Neufeld says:

        The NFL plays and practices the majority of its games on artificial surfaces (21 teams). Of course the injury rate would be higher. According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine., there is no discernible difference between the number of injuries, only in their nature. Recovery times are the same. Anecdotal evidence also states that players prefer to play on turf because it reduces slippages, which reduces pulls and strains. Furthermore, most teams in NFL and college either play or practice on turf because of its reliability under a variety of weather conditions. If you are using injuries as a reason to close Gordie Howe, I think you are taking the wrong tack. BTW, Missouri has implemented heat guidelines (as have Canadian schools) to adjust playing and practice times to accommodate heat and humidity conditions. I

        While Gordie Howe has history, I will agree that its location and sight lines are very poor. Coupled with the cost to upgrade (Approx $5million), in my mind a more centrally located stadium (granted not sure where) could be built for approx $2.5 million with 300 seats and all necessary amenities, with the field costs being the most expensive. I believe that there is simply a lack of creative thought when it comes to this issue.

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