- Greg Johnston
Huskies Stadium - Saint Mary's Huskies
Photos by Greg Johnston, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Huskies Stadium 920 Tower Road Halifax, NS B3H 3C3
St. Mary’s Huskies football website
Year Opened: 1970
Huskies Stadium In Halifax
No other university football program in Atlantic Canada can boast about their historic success quite like Saint Mary’s University. Since their inaugural season in 1956, the Huskies have earned twenty-four Jewett Trophies as the conference winner, along with three Vanier Cups awarded as the champions of U-Sports football (1973, 2001 & 2002).
Located on-campus in the south end of Halifax, Huskies Stadium has hosted football games since 1970. From 2010 to 2014, the stadium endured many renovations including the completion of the Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness. This modern masonry building is connected to the stadium’s east side and is home to the ticket office, Courtside Lounge, and locker rooms. Other enhancements include replacing the gridiron with Field Turf and tearing down a charming, yet crumbling, grandstand. Traditional aluminum bench bleachers replaced the grandstand along both sidelines. In an effort to gauge interest of a professional franchise in Halifax, Huskies Stadium temporarily expanded their capacity by nearly 10,000 as it hosted a Canadian Football League (CFL) exhibition game between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tigercats. The event was a success as it drew a sell-out crowd of over 11,000 fans.
Though Halifax is still without a CFL team, efforts have been made for a franchise to commence within the next few seasons. Huskies Stadium was listed as a possible home for the expansion franchise; however, plans are moving towards other stadium options.
Food & Beverage 1
Huskies Stadium offers a small menu for the hungry fan with two concession stands located at field level, which sell pizza and hot dogs for $4. Accompany your main dish with fries, chips, or candy. Quench your thirst with a pop, juice, or water. The Courtside Lounge, an exclusive area that requires a special ticket, has another concession stand located upstairs in the Homburg Centre. This kiosk offers a similar menu as field level, with additional features such as a grilled chicken sandwich and sausage.
Beer, wine and spirits are also available for purchase at the Courtside Lounge. In addition, for general admission ticket holders, alcoholic beverages can be purchased in the sectioned-off beer garden located just off the southeast end zone. Molson Canadian, Coors, and a few ciders are available to enjoy while not missing a second of the game.
Overall, the game day experience of food and drink is low on quantity and quality. Best to enjoy a meal prior to the event.
A game at Huskies Stadium offers a simplistic experience focused on football. The Humborg Center, adjacent to the sideline, was completed in 2012. It is equipped with locker rooms, Saint Mary’s Sport Hall-of-Fame, a ticket office, fitness area, and a gymnasium. While the street-side of the facility is visually pleasing architecturally, the field-side reveals a largely flat, bare masonry wall. Ten rows of cold aluminum bleachers line the field in front of this wall. Though all seats are general admission, students tend to sit within the five rows of bleachers lining the opposite side of the field, which makes for a more lively fan experience on this side. As an added bonus, both teams’ player benches are along these bleachers as well. The sights and sounds coming from the benches add to the event’s drama.
Barrier free seating is available in the first row of all seating areas. While all seating options offer a close view of the action, you do feel somewhat far away, due to a running track separating the bleachers from the field. It may be best to move around until you find your ideal view of the game. Many students living on-campus have a unique opportunity to catch a game from their dorm room window. A four story dormitory hovers around the south end zone, while a tall twenty-plus story student housing building towers right next to the field, providing spectators with a high view from above. There are no permanent washrooms available around the general seating area; instead, several porta-potties are located on the northwest and southeast corners of the field.
Find the bright, clear scoreboard behind the north goalposts. It appears the scoreboard is equipped with a video screen to show statistics and replay the action; however, this technology was not used during the game of this review. There is a disc jockey who plays a wide range of music between plays, while the public address announcer clearly describes who made the plays after each whistle. Don’t expect much entertainment other than the game as Saint Mary’s does not employ cheerleaders, a marching band, or halftime entertainment. Husky, the mascot, roams around to greet fans and provide photo opportunities. In addition, patrons can line up and get high-fives from SMU players as they storm the field from the locker room before the game and after halftime.
Halifax is an energetic city with plenty of activities for a wide range of demographics.
Take a walk through Saint Mary’s ever-changing campus as new modern buildings take shape, complementing adjacent, classic older facilities. Explore the campus surroundings and you’ll find historic Victorian style houses and upscale mansions. A ten minute walk south terminates at Point Pleasant Park. Here, walking trails lead you many directions to enjoy the sights of nature and historic old British battery ruins. In the summer, one ruin is used by a popular non-profit theatre group called “Shakespeare by the Sea.”
North of campus you’ll find restaurants and stores mingled around neighbourhoods. If time and food allergies allow, try the peanut butter burger at Darrell’s Restaurant and get dessert next door at the Gingerbread Haus. Spring Garden Road is where you’ll find a plethora of bars, restaurants and shopping for an all-day event.
Huskies Stadium is home to a wide age range of loyal supporters. Students and alumni flock to the games, wearing their school spirit to the event. Young football families and former Huskies players from all generations are prevalent on game days, contributing to an overall camaraderie of all in attendance.
Actual attendance figures have steadily declined over recent years, depending on the importance of the game and weather factors. A typical game attracts a range of 1,200 to 1,500 fairly subdued spectators. Fans mostly sit on their hands and rarely engage in a chant. When fans do get riled up, the surrounding buildings help hold in the sound for higher amplitude.
Halifax is the largest city in Atlantic Canada, located on the east coast of Nova Scotia. Direct flights to Stanfield Airport in Halifax are available from most major Canadian cities, and a few American cities. A drive from the United States appears short “as a crow flies,” but a drive from Portland, Maine is about 10 hours, as you must drive around the Bay of Fundy. However, the drive is beautiful no matter where you are coming from, so slow down and enjoy the ride. The city is a three-hour drive from Moncton, NB and Charlottetown, PE. Take the Trans-Canada Highway until hwy 104. Once in the city limits, Robie Street will lead you right by Saint Mary’s campus.
Take a left on Inglis street and park in the lot just before Tower Road. This parking area is free after 6pm and on weekends. Route numbers 4, 10, 14, & 29 of Halifax Transit all have stops at the corner of Inglis and Tower, where the stadium is a mere five-minute walk away.
Huskies Stadium is easily accessible once you arrive at Saint Mary’s campus. Leave some time before the game and check out Gorsebrook Lounge, a popular on-campus bar and grill with windows looking onto the playing field. After paying your bill and finishing the last swig of your beverage, the main entrance is less than a minute walk away at the northeast corner of the field.
If you arrive without a ticket, signs point you to the ticket office located in the Homburg Centre. A pop-up souvenir stand sells shirts, hats and numerous other fan gear to help you cheer on the Huskies. As you enter with your ticket, be sure to have your hand stamped; this allows you to leave and return to the stadium as you please. Free programs are passed out, with information featuring both teams rosters.
Access around the stadium is pretty straight forward as fans follow the field-side running track to all seating areas, concessions, and porta-potties.
Return on Investment 4
Even in the event Halifax lands a CFL franchise, attending a game at Saint Mary’s will be much more affordable to get your “football fix.” Season, individual, and student tickets can be purchased in-person or online at http://www.smuhuskies.ca/fan_zone/tickets. For the 2019 season, general admission for an adult costs $12, while a senior or alumni ticket cost $10.
Students and children (ages 6-12) are admitted for only $5 and SMU students have free admission. Access to the Courtside Lounge will cost you $30/ticket. With a lounge ticket you’ll get access to the Saint Mary’s Sport Hall of Fame, increased food and beverage options, indoor access and permanent washrooms. Another bonus for paying extra for a Courtside Lounge ticket is overhearing some fascinating conversations between former players from decades past. If you want to catch the game without paying, join others who are strolling by or picnicking outside the north end zone fence.
One extra for the on-campus stadium with student housing having an aerial view of the game.
For a pure football fan, attending a game at Huskies Stadium without all the pyrotechnics and entertainment during game breaks may be refreshing. However, the lack of any amusements outside of the mascot, and the absence of crowd engagement leaves a disconnecting feeling between the event and the crowd. Though the renovations have improved a stadium that was previously outdated, it’s apparent more could be done to improve the overall environment around the game.