TAAG Park - Carleton Ravens
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
1125 Colonel By Dr
Ottawa, ON K1S 5R1
Carleton Ravens football website
Year Opened: 1998
The Old Crows Nest
MNP Park was renamed TAAG Park in 2022. The Stadium Journey review was written previous to this change and reflects the previous name.
Football at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario dates all the way back to 1945. Never a particularly successful team, the Ravens would bring home one Dunsmore Cup in 1985 as champions of the now defunct OQIFC. In 1998, as a cost-cutting measure, the university torpedoed the football program and Carleton walked away from the gridiron. However, a funny thing happened at Carleton in the meantime. The Ravens became wildly successful at basketball. The Ravens are known, first and foremost, for having a legendary men’s basketball program. The success that the Ravens saw on the basketball court, helped inspire the athletic department to do something drastic … expand. A group of former Ravens football players and Carleton Alumni banded together to form Old Crows Football Inc., a not-for-profit entity operating in partnership with the university to fully fund a new football program. After a number of years, the Old Crows were successful and in 2013, the Carleton Ravens football team took the field once more, reborn.
Home for the Ravens is on campus, in what is essentially the athletic quadrant of Carleton. MNP Park was built in 1998 for the Ravens soccer teams. Originally known as Keith Harris Stadium, named after the former Ravens Athletic Director of thirty years, MNP Park received a significant renovation to make it suitable for football. MNP LLP, a Canadian accounting firm, purchased the naming rights for the stadium in 2015 and the Ravens are one of the few programs that employs a naming rights deal for their on campus stadium. Carleton has played well in their second life, but it has been the rekindling of their rivalry with the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Panda Game which has given a serious boost to the program. The annual clash, which takes place at TD Stadium, the local CFL Stadium, has become the preeminent football game in USports, even outdrawing the National Championship game, the Vanier Cup.
Food & Beverage 2
Concession options at MNP Park are not spectacular. Fans will be able to find a couple of options which are good for a sack or a light meal. There is a food truck on the premises which sells burgers, hot dogs, fries and poutine. The other option is a more permanent concession area which offers basic snacks and drinks. This stand does offer alcoholic beverages for purchase as well.
MNP Park is not atypical for an OUA football facility in that it was built on a budget and functionality is at the forefront. There is very little of the exterior of MNP Park that stands out. The Ravens put out a couple of signs welcoming fans in both English and French. However, there isn’t much in the way of signage bringing attention to the facility. In fact, the fieldhouse which is across the parking lot commands much more attention. Upon entering the stadium, fans will immediately notice the steel grandstand and the underside, which is essentially used for storage. The grandstand is fairly standard with a full slate of bleacher seating and three separate coaching and media boxes at the top. On the opposite side of the grandstand there is some berm seating. The field runs from north to south and is a synthetic playing surface, which is standard for the OUA. A plaque explaining the history of former Athletic Director, Keith Harris, and his contributions to the Carleton Ravens, still graces the south end of the grandstand. The southeast corner features a standard scoreboard and the rest of the field is surrounded by mature trees.
The game day production at a Ravens game is a relatively simple one. There are a couple of bells and whistles, however. The Ravens mantra is recited over the PA and the team comes charging out of a large, inflatable, football helmet in the south end zone to begin the game. Some simple fireworks and pyro help welcome the Ravens and signal a Ravens score. The PA announcer is fairly laid back, yet still professional and does not over work the crowd or run music through every stoppage in play, which is a refreshing change. Overall, there are plenty of areas in which Carleton could spruce up MNP Park and take the facility to the next level.
Ottawa is a tremendous tourist destination. Carleton University is not far from the eclectic neighbourhood known as The Glebe and a short drive from what is commonly known as downtown Ottawa. There are not a ton of interesting options within walking distance, but fans can find plenty of spots within a short ten minute drive. Mike’s Place Pub and Oliver’s Pub and Patio are the on campus pubs and may be of interest. Other places to consider would be the famous Elgin Street Diner, Craft Beer Market, Joey Lansdowne, The Rowan and Irene’s Pub.
As far as other entertainment options within Ottawa, there are a ton. Ottawa is full of museums including the Museum of Nature, the Canadian Mint, Museum of Aviation and Museum of Civilization. However, no trip to Ottawa can be complete without seeing the Parliament Buildings and the Canadian War Museum. Timing a trip to Ottawa correctly can bring with it the opportunity to skate on the Rideau Canal, which Ottawa is famous for.
There are also plenty of sporting options for fans visiting Canada’s Capital. Carleton also fields very successful basketball programs, which play at the Ravens’ Nest and hockey programs which play at the Carleton Ice House. The cross-town rival for the Ravens is the Ottawa Gee-Gees. UOttawa also fields football, basketball and hockey teams which can be found at Gee-Gees Field, Monpetit Hall and Minto Sports Complex, respectively. The Glebe is where Landsdowne Park can be found and TD Place Stadium and TD Place Arena are on the park grounds. The stadium his home to the Panda Game and the Ottawa RedBlacks of the CFL. TD Place Arena is the home of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. Further away from downtown is Canadian Tire Centre, where the Ottawa Senators of the NHL play.
The return of the Carleton Ravens to the gridiron has been well received by sports fans in Ottawa. It can be difficult at times to accurately gage attendance for OUA football games. The attendance will fluctuate usually between 1,000 and 3,000. The game that was reviewed was the O-Week game and full of first year Carleton University students. Where Carleton has gone above and beyond is their support, along with the University of Ottawa, for the Panda Game. The annual clash is now the premier event in all USports football and has been sold out in the 24,000 seat TD Place Stadium.
Getting around Ottawa can definitely be a challenge. The downtown especially can be some tough travelling by car, however, the campus of Carleton is a sufficient distance from Parliament that the traffic isn’t terrible. The closest highway access is highway 417, which is north of the campus. A small drive through the city isn’t terrible. There is plenty of parking available on campus near MNP Park. There are times when parking can be found free of charge. Keep an eye on the signs near parking meters for free parking hours. Ottawa public transit also drives right into the Carleton University Campus including the O-Train on campus and buses on Bronson Ave. Fans should check out the OC Transpo website for fares, schedules and maps.
Once curious part of the Carleton experience is that the ticket tent is on the other side of security, essentially inside MNP Park. This is not a terrific setup and the lineups can be significant waiting for tickets or will-call. Getting around the stadium is not an issue as it is pretty wide open and the single grandstand makes moving around simple. Unfortunately, the biggest drawback of MNP Park is a distinct lack of running water. Washroom facilities consist of portable toilets and hand washing stations, which are not terrific. The next step in the evolution of the former Keith Harris Stadium should be some permanent washroom and locker room facilities.
Return on Investment 4
OUA football offers tremendous value for sports fans in the Ottawa area. A ticket for Ravens football will go for $20 and those eligible for discounts will pay $15. The product on the field is solid for the Ravens and fans will enjoy the experience. A better facility with washrooms would push the return on investment higher as fans are going to have to endure some discomfort.
An extra mark for the successful return of the Ravens to OUA football after a lengthy absence.
An extra mark for the top rivalry in USports football and premiere event in the Panda Game. The annual clash against the Ottawa Gee-Gees played at TD Place Stadium is now an even bigger event than the Vanier Cup itself.
An extra mark for the Old Crows whose determination and hard work made the return of Carleton Ravens football a reality.
A trip to see the Carleton Ravens is well worth the time and effort. USports football continues to be an underrated experience which more fans, outside of the university community, should experience. Here’s hoping that improvements can continue at MNP Park and the improvement of the Ravens experience continues to rise.
Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.