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McMahon Stadium

Calgary, AB

Home of the Calgary Stampeders

3.6

2.6

McMahon Stadium (map it)
1817 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T2M 4R6
Canada


Calgary Stampeders website

McMahon Stadium website

Year Opened: 1960

Capacity: 35,650

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Stamp Stadium

The Calgary Stampeders have been in business in the Canadian Football League since 1935. In that time they have won seven Grey Cups. Six of those seven championships have been won while they resided in their current digs, at McMahon Stadium.

McMahon Stadium was built in 1960 in an amazingly short 100-day period by using a unique system of pre-cast concrete elements.

There have been a number of renovations and improvements over the years, growing the capacity of the facility from 22,000, all the way up to 38,000 in 1988 in anticipation of hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The total number of seats are now slightly lower after adding in luxury boxes on both the east and west sides, allowing for just under 36,000 fans.

As a stadium that is over 50 years old, McMahon is long in the tooth and not the most beautiful building on the planet. Nevertheless, it remains in decent shape overall and is still a good place to see a CFL game.

3.6

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The food options at the concession stands have improved since renovations were done in 2013. The chicken souvlaki ($7.75) at Sam's under the west stands is very good, although it is messy, so be forewarned and grab some extra napkins.

At some of the other concession locations around the stadium you can get your hands on hot dogs and sausages on a bun, chicken tenders with fries, back ribs, and much more. Also, Pizza 73 is set up in a couple locations if you're looking for a slice of pie ($5.75) during the game.

Fresh-off-the-grill burgers are still your best bet here and can be picked up at the Gridiron Grill ($6.25 for the Stamps burger) and also at the newer Huff's Burger stand in the northeast corner ($7.75 for a Huff Burger, named after head coach John Hufnagel). Then again, anything made of Alberta beef is usually excellent.

The typical popcorn/peanuts/chips options are also available at most of the stands.

As for adult beverage options, you'll pay $7 for a Molson Canadian or Coors Light at several locations around McMahon. There are also several other spots where you can find more upscale beer like Heineken, coolers, spirits, and wine at a slightly higher cost.

While the choices and quality of the food and beverage options seem to have improved overall, the prices have been climbing as well.

Atmosphere    3

One of the best kept secrets north of the border is that CFL-style football is a better game than NFL-style football. More motion, more creativity, more scoring. As a direct consequence, going to see a CFL game is always a pleasure.

Generally speaking, there's a pretty good vibe in McMahon when the Stamps are playing. The crowd is energized, the action on the field is exciting and it's just a fun atmosphere.

Seating at McMahon is mostly good. Views from every seat in the house are clear and unobstructed and the seats themselves in the lower sections are quite comfortable for extended sits. The bleacher seats in the upper areas are far from ideal, but after climbing the stairs to the 60th row on the west side or 70th row on the east, you may not care. It is a loooong climb to the very top.

Also of note, if you are seated in Section A, in the southwest corner of the stadium, or Section X, in the southeast corner, you will not be able to see the big video scoreboard that is situated just beyond the south end zone. If you want to see replays and other video entertainment when there's a break in the action on the field, these are not the seats for you.

The only real problem with the atmosphere at a Stampeders game is, quite literally, the atmosphere. The thin air this far above sea level means that as soon as the sun goes down, it gets chilly. Fast. And for some reason, it seems like the location of McMahon turns it into a bit of a wind tunnel, so any cool air coming in from the mountains just races through the stadium, cooling it off even faster. On anything shy of a sunny afternoon game, you'll likely leave McMahon with a chill, which is less than awesome.

My most recent visit to McMahon was for a 5:00 pm game, so the temperature was quite nice for the entire game, but remember to bring something warm to wear for those late season games in October.

The other issue with the atmosphere at McMahon is that the old building is just so... old. It isn't a very beautiful building from the outside or the concourse and although there are a few interesting distractions when your attention isn't on the game, they are fairly few and far between.

Aside from that though, it's always a good time attending a Stamps game.

Neighborhood    4

On first blush, the immediate vicinity around McMahon Stadium might seem pretty unremarkable. But over the years I've come to appreciate just how many entertainment options are within a few blocks of the facility.

Directly east across Crowchild Trail from McMahon, you'll find a strip mall, the Hilltop Plaza, with several restaurants, including Big T's BBQ and Smokehouse, one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Big T's serves up New Orleans style barbecue and blues music piped over the sound system. The fried dill pickles are outstanding.

Also in Hilltop Plaza, you'll find a Dairy Queen, Joey's Only for fish, Saigon Y2K for some good Vietnamese food, and on top of all that there are a couple take-out options as well.

A block north, you'll also find a local institution, Nick's Steakhouse and Pizza. They've won numerous Consumer's Choice Awards and continue to produce great food every time.

The Hilltop Plaza is situated in the northwest corner of what is locally known as Motel Village, a collection of motels directly across from McMahon Stadium. Also collected within Motel Village are several more restaurants, including a Denny's, a Boston Pizza, a McDonald's, and a Phil's.

Heading west a block, you'll find the Stadium Shopping Mall and another handful of restaurants. There's Moose McGuire's Bar, which serves an excellent Crown Float, The Keg for a great steak, and the Redwater Rustic Grille for a little more upscale dining experience. Between The Keg and Redwater you'll also find a Wendy's if you're in the mood for a fast food burger. Within very easy walking distance from McMahon there is a place for most every palette, so there really is no need to go searching far and wide for some pre or postgame dining. It's a little light on the bar and night club scene, but you'll have no trouble finding a good meal and a couple drinks.

Fans    3

My most recent visit was a late afternoon/early evening game with 28,500 fans in the stands. The crowd was taken out of the game early when the opposition built up a big first quarter lead, but the Stampeders came storming back and got the fans fired up again.

Typically, the crowd is right into the game with tons of cheering and booing, as necessary. At this game the crowd energy was very good once the Stamps got themselves on a roll. It would be nice, however, to see the crowd remain animated even when their hometown team is struggling.

In general, you'll find thousands of people proudly wearing their Stampeders' red and white and usually a handful proudly wearing their Saskatchewan Roughriders green and white (Riders fans are loyal to the point that they'll wear their team's colours even when their team isn't in the game). They're generally all in good spirits, especially when their team is winning and they're there to have a fun time.

Access    3

Parking around McMahon is not great.

The smallish lot surrounding the stadium is reserved exclusively for season ticket holders who have payed extra for the privilege. That means your remaining options involve doing some walking.

There is parking available at the Stadium Mall for $10, but it fills up very quickly, so come a couple hours early if you hope to get in there. You might also find one of the few available spots on the neighbourhood streets, although most of the area is permit parking only.

One other option would be to consider parking at the Foothills Hospital, just west and south of McMahon on 16th Ave. The parkade on the north side is used almost exclusively by people visiting the university medical sciences buildings on the grounds, so by game time it is typically pretty empty. At $13 for your stay, it's also a little pricey, considering you'll still be a 10 minute walk from the game.

You might also head north of the stadium a few blocks to the university campus where you'll find several parking lots and slightly better rates than the hospital, but again you should plan to do some walking. The closest university lot is the Arts Parkade which is $10 during the day and $7 after 6:00 pm.

Your best bet is to use Calgary's Light Rail Transit system. The C-Train has a station a block away to the east, alongside Motel Village, and there's a big pedestrian overpass to get you across Crowchild Trail. The train can get you around town fairly quickly and easily, although it gets pretty crowded in the postgame rush. At $3.15 for an adult fare, it's a pretty good option.

Once inside the gates, you'll find the McMahon Stadium concourse to be very tight. It simply doesn't have the room to accommodate 30,000 people and there aren't any good solutions for adding room under there that I can see. Washroom access has improved with the addition of some port-a-potties on the north end, but you can still expect significant lineups, especially if you're a female. It isn't the worst stadium I've ever been in for this issue, but it's in the bottom five. Plan to be in very close quarters with your fellow fans if you feel the need to take a stroll during halftime.

Return on Investment    4

CFL football is a very entertaining brand of football, so you can expect a great time at the event. A fun atmosphere with lots of action around a good crowd equals a good evening (or weekend afternoon) out.

Depending on the game, prices vary somewhat. Regular priced games run anywhere from $33 per seat up to $110 per seat, while premium games are a bit spendier at $43-$120 per seat.

For the thriftier fan, there's also the Safeway Family Huddle zone in Section A on the southwest corner of the stands. For $21.99, you can purchase these passes at any local Safeway or Sobeys grocery store, which makes for a pretty economical option.

Extras    5

McMahon Stadium has a number of little extras to further enhance your game experience.

The Red and White Club in the north end of the stadium is an exclusive members-only facility featuring a buffet and full bar service and is open before, during, and after the game.

The Telus #AllHeartStamps Patio is located just beyond the north end zone, right in front of the Red and White Club and is for group events of 50 people or more.

The Stampeders have two mascots: Ralph the Dog and Quick Six. Ralph has been the team mascot for decades and splits his time between visiting with the youngsters in the stands and chasing around the sidelines trying to pump the fans up. Quick Six is the team's touchdown horse. It has been a long-standing tradition at Stamps games that every time the Red and White score a touchdown, the horse takes a victory gallop along the sidelines. The latest horse with that coveted assignment is Quick Six.

The Outrider cheerleaders are on the sidelines during the game keeping the fans engaged with their between plays cheers. They also get out on the field itself for a couple dance routines during longer stoppages and do a great job bringing energy and exuberance to the event.

Souvenirs and apparel can be purchased in a number of locations around the stadium, but most particularly in the main Stamps Store on the southeast side of the building exterior. Something for every fan can be found in there.

A relatively new addition to the experience is the Fan Zone located to the south of the stadium on the Stampeders' practice field. Numerous different activities and stations are set up for fans to check out including a branch location of the Stamps Store, several food trucks (Jelly Modern Doughnuts are amazing), some bouncy castles for the kids and even a players' autograph table.

For those who still fondly recall the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Olympic Cauldron where the torch ceremony officially opened the Games is situated in the northeast corner of the stadium. On a hill leading from the Cauldron down to the field area is a series of pennant flags for the seven Grey Cup wins the Stampeders have earned.

Final Thoughts

All in all, this is a fun event to take in, at a decent venue. There's something for most everyone and the game is sure to please any football fan.

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Crowd Reviews

Stampeders At McMahon

Total Score: 3.43

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

The Calgary Stampeders have been in business in the Canadian Football League since 1935. In that time they have won six Grey Cups. Five of those six championships have been won while they’ve resided in their current digs, at McMahon Stadium.

McMahon Stadium was built in 1960 in an amazingly short 100-day period by using a unique system of pre-cast concrete elements.

There have been a number of renovations and improvements over the years, growing the capacity of the facility from 22,000, all the way up to 38,000 in 1988 in anticipation of hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympics. The total seats are now slightly lower after adding in luxury boxes on both the east and west sides, allowing for just under 36,000 fans.

As a stadium that is over 50 years old, McMahon is long in the tooth and not the most beautiful building on the planet. Nevertheless, it remains in very good shape overall and serves its residents well.

McDump!

Total Score: 1.86

  • Food & Beverage: 2
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 0
  • Extras: 0

McMahon has to be one of the worst stadiums in North America, if not the world. It was not built to hold the current capacity which means you miss a lot of the game if you decide to use the washroom and/or get food and a beer. In the West final I had to actually go outside and use a port-a-potty and even that had a lineup 10 deep!

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Local Food & Drink

Big T's BBQ & Smokehouse  (map it!)

2138 Crowchild Trail Northwest

Calgary, AB T2M 4N5

(403) 284-5959

http://www.bigtsbbq.com/

Nick's Steakhouse & Pizza  (map it!)

2430 Crowchild Trail Northwest

Calgary, AB T2M 4N5

(403) 282-9278

http://www.nickssteakandpizza.com

Joey’s Only  (map it!)

2120 Crowchild Trail NW

Calgary, AB T2M 3Y7

(403) 284-4968

http://joeys.ca/location/alberta.html

Saigon Y2K  (map it!)

310 Centre St S

Calgary, AB T2G 2B8

(403) 265-3035

http://www.saigony2kcalgary.com/

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