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Saskatoon Minor Football Field

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Saskatoon Minor Football Field

Saskatoon Minor Football Field
Gordie Howe Bowl
Aerial view of SMF Field (Gordie Howe Bowl) in 2005
Address 1525 Avenue P South
Location Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Coordinates
Owner City of Saskatoon
Operator City of Saskatoon
Capacity 3,950
Surface Grass
Opened September 30, 1960

The Saskatoon Minor Football Field at Gordon Howe Park (formerly known as Gordie Howe Bowl) is a football stadium located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. It was opened September 30, 1960, built on land repossessed by the city in 1931 for unpaid taxes.[1] It is the home of the Saskatoon Hilltops, who play in the Prairie Football Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League and is also used for high school football. It is located on the southwest corner of the city.

The stadium is named after Gordie Howe, a Saskatoon native who never played football (Howe was instead a world-renowned ice hockey player).

Upgrades

New scoreboard in October 2014
North end of SMF Field

The city considered closing the stadium in 2006 due to maintenance costs.

In 2008, a master plan for Gordie Howe Bowl was formulated and the facility was expected to receive $30 million for expansion and upgrades. It would have included artificial turf, an additional eight lane track complete with a throws and jump area, and expanded bleacher seating for 6500 spectators. Athletic facilities including public washrooms, change rooms and concession, and fencing were to be constructed in the first phase, costing $12.4 million. The cost would have been shared by the federal government ($4.1 million), the city ($2.9 million), corporate sponsors ($1.4 million) and admission levy ($4 million). The second phase was expected to cost $12.8 million and provide new bleachers, a new press box, additional washrooms, concessions, meeting rooms, landscaping and an entry plaza. Phase 3 of the project, pegged at $4.8 million, would have provided a paved parking lot, private boxes and more landscaping. The bowl improvements would enable hosting of soccer and track and field teams.[2][3]

Renovations were delayed because of opposition to an admission levy by users of the facility, creating a budget shortfall. In 2009, city council considered a proposal to turn Gordie Howe Bowl into a multi-purpose events centre, capable of staging concerts, family events and trade shows. A consultant was hired to study the idea, which was expected to generate additional revenue.[4] However by January 2011, mayor Don Atchison said the event centre plans were no longer feasible. A report to council updating the status of the project was slated for March 2011.[5]

In October 2011, the city revealed scaled-back plans worth $9.8 million to upgrade the turf, score clock, lighting, dressing rooms, washrooms, concession and sound system. The facility would not be used as an event centre, as previously proposed.[6] A group called the Friend of the Bowl Foundation was formed in 2012, which included several sports organizations that use the stadium. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the city and the foundation, which committed both parties to funding the upgrades.[7] The grass playing field will be replaced with artificial turf during the first phase of upgrades, costing $2.4 million and scheduled for 2014. It will also include new lighting, score clock and sound system.[8]

In 2014, the facility name was changed to the Saskatoon Minor Football Field at Gordon Howe Park. City council approved the name change at the request of a major donor, the Yausie family.[9][10] The upgrades to the facility were expected to be complete by September 2014.[11] On Saturday, September 6, 2014, the first Hilltop game was played on the newly installed artificial turf against the Regina Thunder ball team. With funding by Friends of the Bowl Foundation, community donors and the City of Saskatoon, new scoreboard, lights and sound system were also new additions. The facility still awaits a new clubhouse,[12][13] which is estimated to cost $1.5 million.[14]

Tenants

Saskatoon Hilltops during a 2008 playoff game on the old grass turf at Gordie Howe Field
Team League Years Notes
Aden Bowman Bears Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-
Bedford Road Redmen Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-
Bethlehem Stars Saskatoon High School Football League 2008-
BJM Saints Saskatoon High School Football League
Centennial Chargers Saskatoon High School Football League 2007-
City Park Cowboys Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-1985 Changed to an alternate high school with the opening of Marion Graham; as a result dropped football.
E. D. Feehan Trojans Saskatoon High School Football League 1966-
Evan Hardy Souls Saskatoon High School Football League 1967-
Holy Cross Crusaders Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-
Marion Graham Falcons Saskatoon High School Football League 1986-
Mount Royal Mustangs Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-
North Battleford Composite Vikings Saskatoon High School Football League 1995- Joined the Saskatoon league when the SHSAA allowed schools to participate in playoffs below their league level.
Nutana Blues Saskatoon High School Football League 1960- Dropped sports when it converted to an alternate high school.
PA Carlton Crusaders Saskatoon High School Football League 1995- Joined the Saskatoon league when the SHSAA allowed schools to participate in playoffs below their league level.
PA St. Mary Crusaders Saskatoon High School Football League 2007-
St. Joseph Guardians Saskatoon High School Football League 1995-
St. Paul's Saints Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-66 Closed in 1966 and was replaced by E. D. Feehan High School.
Saskatoon Hilltops Canadian Junior Football League 1960-
Saskatoon Valkyries Western Women's Canadian Football League 2015-
Tommy Douglas Tigers Saskatoon High School Football League 2008-
Walter Murray Marauders Saskatoon High School Football League 1960-

References

  1. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (2013-11-07). "Gordie Howe Bowl's turf wars are over".  
  2. ^ Wolfe, Cory (2008-08-30). "Gordie Howe Bowl awaits facelift".  
  3. ^ Nickel, Rod (2008-09-03). "Council gives preliminary nod to Howe Bowl, arena expansion".  
  4. ^ Wolfe, Cory (2009-12-08). "Howe Bowl eyed as events centre".  
  5. ^ Hutton, David (2011-01-19). "'"Gordie Howe Bowl plan 'isn't feasible.  
  6. ^ Hutton, David; Nugent-Bowman, Daniel (2011-10-11). "Gordie Howe plans scaled back".  
  7. ^ "Regular Meeting of City Council - Tuesday, November 13, 2012, at 6:00 P.M." (PDF). City of Saskatoon. 2012-11-14. p. 167. Retrieved 2015-05-12. 
  8. ^ "Players say goodbye to grass at Gordie Howe Bowl".  
  9. ^ "Gordie Howe Bowl campaign receives $2-million donation".  
  10. ^ "Field named for minor football".  
  11. ^ "Gordie Howe Bowl upgrades nearly ready for football season".  
  12. ^ Streck, Aaron (2014-08-21). "New turf rolled out and almost ready to go at Gordie Howe Park".  
  13. ^ Pillar, Thomas (2014-09-08). "Hilltops break in new Saskatoon Minor Football Field".  
  14. ^ "Gordie Howe Bowl needs final $1.5M for clubhouse".  
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