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  • Writer's pictureDave Cottenie

Percival Molson Memorial Stadium - Montreal Alouettes



Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Percival Molson Memorial Stadium 475 Avenue Pine Montreal, QC H2W 1S4 Canada

Year Opened: 1915 Capacity: 25,025

 

Faites du Bruit


With a colourful history, the Montréal Alouettes constitute the most eastern team in the Canadian Football League. The original Alouettes were founded in 1946 and participated in the CFL until 1982, claiming four Grey Cups. The Als would collapse and immediately be replaced in Montréal by the Montréal Concordes, who would fold in 1987.


CFL football would be absent from la belle province for several years until a saviour would come from south of the border. The US Expansion period of the CFL is, at the very least, controversial, with the one shining light coming from Baltimore where the Stallions would claim the 83rd Grey Cup in 1995. The NFL and Art Modell would notice the popularity of the CFL club and the Cleveland Browns would pack up shop and head east to become the Baltimore Ravens. The suddenly crowded football market would force the Stallions to essentially move to Montréal to become the modern-day Alouettes.


The 1996 and 1997 would prove to be a struggle at the turnstile as the Als would call the cavernous Olympic Stadium home. Once again a saviour for football in Montréal would arrive, but this time it would come from across the Atlantic Ocean. A surprise hosting of a playoff game on November 2, 1997, would prove to be a bit of a situation for the Alouettes.


The Olympic Stadium was already booked by the mega band U2, forcing the Als to find an alternate solution. The campus of McGill University provided the solution with the Alouettes returning to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, their home from 1954 to 1967. A massive 45-35 victory over the BC Lions and a sold-out crowd lead to the decision to call Molson Stadium the permanent home for the Als who would go on to great success in the late nineties and early two-thousands.


Percival Molson died in World War I and was part of the 1896 Montréal Victorias Stanley Cup-winning team. He left $75,000 to his alma mater to help build the stadium that would bear his name. Currently owned by Videotron CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau, the Montréal Alouettes offer an excellent Canadian Football experience that is among the best in the country.


Food & Beverage 3

The culinary experience at Molson Stadium is not among the best but will satisfy fans in attendance. The La Cage tent offers hot dogs and sausages. The TiJoe stand offers creole poutine, burgers, and fried chicken. Other stands offer pizza, chips, popcorn, tacos, slushies, nachos, and cotton candy.


The Biergarten is found at the south endzone and has several tents. Pepsi products and Gatorade are the soft drinks of choice at Molson Stadium. The selection of beer is okay with Corona, Budweiser, Bud Light, and Stella Artois headlining the group. Some stands to offer a fully stocked bar including rum, gin, and amaretto.


Atmosphere 4

Percival Molson Memorial Stadium was built in 1915. Of course, there have been several renovations over the years, but Molson Stadium remains the most unique of all CFL stadiums. Nestled neatly in the campus of McGill University, one of the prettiest university campuses in Canada, Molson is surrounded by mature trees and greenery on the north and west sides of the stadium.


The south side is immediately enclosed by the Montréal Neurological Institute, which looks into the playing field. The exterior of Ave des Pins on the east side is a dated, brown-block look. The most picturesque entry to the stadium, however, is from the north, where fans may enter the wrought iron gates at field level, with the splendor of the university buildings and Mount Royal in the distance.


After entering the stadium at the north end, fans are welcomed with a historical pavilion telling the entire story of Molson Stadium, including a profile of Percival Molson. The seven Grey Cup flags (five at the time of writing as two were damaged in a storm) hang at the north end of the stadium beside the video board and are visible from beyond the gates.


The south-north oriented field features the Biergarten past the south endzone, the north endzone has some limited seating and the majority of seating is in the one-tier west grandstand and two-tier east grandstand. A four-lane track curiously encircles the playing surface, perhaps remnants of a previous era in McGill Athletics. The east facia features the retired numbers of Alouettes legends Anthony Calvillio, Mike Pringle, George Dixon, Herb Trawick, Pierre Desjardins, Peter Dalla Riva, Hal Patterson, Virgil Wagner, Ben Cahoon, Junior Ah You and Sam “The Rifle” Etcheverry.


The majority of the seating is bleacher benches with some seats on the east, nearly at field level, and at the top, near the boxes, of the west side. The old Daktronics scoreboard, embedded into the building at the south end, is of note and gives the stadium a certain charm.


The gameday production at an Alouettes game is as good as any in the CFL. The tailgate party takes place outside the stadium in the pregame. The Alouette Cheerleaders perform during the breaks and take up their posts on the sidelines during the game, or participate in promotions.


Toche, the Alouette mascot, takes part in the pregame entries and interacts with fans during the game. The Alouettes enter the field from the southeast corner, through an inflatable, with a cage, that must be ceremonially unlocked for the players to take the field. A notable part of the game is the announcements in French, including the request by the announcer for noise, which is much less intrusive in French as the announcer proclaims FAITES DU BRUIT!



Neighbourhood 5

Percival Molson Memorial Stadium might be the best-located stadium in the CFL. Located on the campus of McGill University, it benefits from all that campus has to offer. A walk through campus to the stadium is a treat. McGill is just north of Centre-Ville proper and is in the Ville-Marie borough of Montréal.


The number of spots for pre or post-game food and drink is too huge to do justice here. Schwartz’s Deli is a Montréal staple and is a short walk north of the stadium. Heading south to Downtown Montréal to Rue Saint-Catherine, a 15-minute walk, will bring fans to the heart of Montréal’s food and shopping scene.


For fans looking for other sporting options in Montréal, there are plenty. McGill, of course, fields Redbirds athletic teams including football, hockey, and basketball, with the football team calling Molson Stadium home as well. Other Montréal universities fielding teams include Concordia with Stingers football, hockey, and basketball, among other teams; Montréal Carabins football; and UQAM Citadins basketball. CF Montréal of Major League Soccer plays at Stade Saputo, right under the tower of Olympic Stadium, the former home of the hopefully returning Montréal Expos.


The borough of Verdun hosts the Montréal Alliance of the CEBL and hockey can be found in the nearby suburbs of Laval (Laval Rocket) and Blainville (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada). Of course, the crown jewel of Montréal sports is the Montréal Canadiens of the National Hockey League and their home at Centre Bell.


Fans should consider checking out The Forum, the former home of the Canadiens with some nostalgia to be found, or the Biodome and Olympic Park or The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts for a couple of other tourist options. The Best Western Ville-Marie and Delta may be the best choices for a hotel to facilitate walking to the game.


Fans 4

Montréal gets some flack, as does Vancouver and Toronto, for not having the most supportive CFL fans. In the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the Alouettes have drawn over 17,500 fans on average per game. In both seasons, this ranks 8th in the CFL for attendance, which is not terrific.


However, in both seasons Montréal has been second in the league in capacity with around 88%. The fans that are in attendance are right into the game and are among the loudest in the league. Although the raw number for attendance in Montréal may not be the best, the grade is pushed up slightly by the gameday support.

Access 3

Driving to Molson Stadium for an Alouettes game is not advised. Parking and traffic in Montréal can be very tedious. There is not much in the way of parking around campus and many who do drive rely on very unreliable street parking. Montréal traffic can be worse than Toronto so finding a way to walk to McGill or taking transit is the best option.


The Metro station can be found just at the edge of campus and there are plenty of bus stops around. Fans should check out the Société de Transport de Montréal website for fares, maps, and schedules. Inside Molson Stadium, it can be a real challenge to get around as the concourses are very cramped. Fans are required to enter at the gate delineated on their ticket.


The concourse on the upper east side offers a little more space. Molson also has plenty of stairs and fans with mobility issues need to thoroughly research plans for getting in and around. Washroom facilities can also be pretty cramped. With security protocols in professional sports consistently changing, Stadium Journey recommends fans consult the Montréal Alouettes website for the most up-to-date security protocols, including prohibited items.



Return on Investment 4

The Montréal Alouettes offer good value for the sporting dollar. Tickets begin in the endzone at $26 and move up to $150. Some lower-level tickets are available for around $50, which is not too bad for the league. Parking should not be a cost factor and concessions are a bit on the expensive side. The return is a solid product on the field in one of the most unique environments for football in the country.


Extras 4

An extra mark for the beautiful McGill University campus where Molson Stadium is found.


An extra mark for Molson Stadium remains a living Memorial for Percival Molson.


An extra mark for U2 saving the Alouettes and helping them discover playing outdoors at Molson.


An extra mark for the French flavor found throughout the game.


Final Thoughts

In the oldest stadium in the CFL, the Montréal Alouettes offer one of the most unique game-day experiences at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Getting to an Als game is a must for all Canadian Football fans and the city of Montréal is as good a tourist destination as there is. It is highly recommended to get to an Alouettes game and FAITES DU BRUIT!


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Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on YouTube, Twitter, Threads, and Instagram @profan9.



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