Tim Hortons Field - Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Tim Hortons Field 64 Melrose Ave N Hamilton, ON L8L 8C1 Canada
Hamilton Tiger-Cats website Tim Hortons Field website
Year Opened: 2014 Capacity: 23,218
One of the more unique team names in sports was born in 1950. Those not familiar with the Canadian Football League often raise a Spockian eyebrow at the moniker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. At times viewed as whimsical and comical, most do not understand the significance of the name Tiger-Cats. In a brilliant preservation of history, 1950 saw the merger of two Hamilton gridiron teams. The five time Grey Cup Champion Hamilton Tigers and one time Grey Cup Champion Hamilton Wildcats came together to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the rest is history. The Ticats, as they are popularly known, have stood the test of time, even surviving the ownership of Toronto Maple Leafs’ controversial owner, Harold Ballard. In 2004, the Tiger-Cats were purchased, or possibly rescued, by native Hamiltonian and current owner Bob Young and his Hamilton Sports Group. The reverence that Young holds for the team is evident with the job title “Caretaker” that he has given himself.
The 2015 PanAm games gave the City of Hamilton the opportunity to upgrade the beloved, yet outdated, Ivor Wynne Stadium. The PanAm soccer facility would become Tim Hortons Field, which was built in 2014 on the same site that Ivor Wynne once stood. Tim Hortons Field is the perfect size for CFL football with a capacity of over 23,000 and is also now the home of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Food & Beverage 4
Concessions at Tim Hortons Field are about as good as anywhere in the CFL. As the name states, Tim Hortons coffee, and other hot and cold beverages as well as Timbits are available in the stadium. All of the expected items can be found and there are plenty of options that should be considered. Butcher Burger Bar has a number of unique burgers and vegetarian options also. Nathan’s hot dogs are available and Pizza Pizza slices are found at the dedicated stand. The Poutine & Provision stand offers a variety of poutines and fries. Coca-Cola products are the soda of choice and there are a number of different beers available. A good plan is to head to the Stipley area, behind the south endzone to get a Saltlik BBQ sandwich and a Hamilton Tiger-Cats Lincoln Lager from Bench Brewing.
Tim Hortons Field is an excellent stadium for the CFL. The exterior of Tim Hortons Field does not provide a big wow factor, but it is an attractive stadium. Essentially comprised of an east and west grandstand that is in a fairly compact footprint, fans will most likely enter through the north or south gates. There is a large gathering area in the southeast corner where fans can meet before heading in. There are couple of things fans should note on the exterior. The southern end of Tim Hortons Field is bordered by Cannon Street East, which has been renamed Bernie Faloney Way between Balsam and Melrose after the legendary Tiger-Cats quarterback. The pillars of the exterior fencing features the Tiger-Cats Walk of Fame. Member plaques for Hamilton legends like Earl Winfield, Angelo Mosca, Joe Montford, Wally Zatylny and numerous Pig Skin Petes, and many more are great for fans to explore.
Inside the stadium fans will be drawn to a north and south endzone feature. The south endzone has the Stipley bar area with the giant steam whistle, which is used on scoring plays by the Ticats and signifies the working class demeanor of Hamilton. The north endzone features the videoboard, which is solid. On the fascia of the west grandstand is the Tiger-Cats Wall of Honour. Tiger-Cats memorialized on the wall include John Barrow, Willie Bethea, Less Browne, Tommy Joe Coffey, Grover Covington, Bill Danychuk, Rocky DiPietro, Bernie Faloney, Jake Gaudaur, Tommy Grant, Garney Henley, Ellison Kelly, Bob Krouse, Pete Neumann, Paul Osbaldiston, Ralph Sazio, Vince Scott, Don Sutherin, Earl Winfield, Ben Zambiasi, Joe Zuger, Rob Hitchcock, Joe Montford, and the infamous Angelo Mosca. In the northwest corner of the fascia, the Tiger-Cats have their two most honoured players memorialized with banners for the retired numbers of Bernie Faloney and Angelo Mosca. Along with Mosca and Faloney the eight Grey Cups the Ticats claim are memorialized. (1953, 1957, 1963, 1967, 1972, 1986, 1999). An area that fans should consider checking out is the Canadian Football Hall of Fame which is located on the Club Level.
Where the Tiger-Cats really step up is in the game day production department. There are certain staples that Ticat fans enjoy and the organization delivers on all accounts, but by no means is the game over-produced. The national anthem is highlighted with the unveiling of the giant Canadian flag, nearly the size of the entire field. A flyover by one of the planes from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is a staple at Tiger-Cat games. The Tiger-Cats cheerleaders entertain the fans on the field and throughout the stadium and TC and Stripes, the Ticat mascots, interact with fans young and old. However, it is the presence of Pigskin Pete and the Oskee-Wee-Wee chant which are uniquely Hamilton and a part of every Tiger-Cat experience.
Tim Hortons Field is absolutely a neighbourhood stadium. Located in the Stipley neighbourhood of Hamilton, on the location of the former Ivor Wynne Stadium, Tim Hortons Field suffers from the same location issues as its predecessor. Tiger-Cats Caretaker, Bob Young, attempted to get a different location for the stadium when negotiating with the City of Hamilton, however, the long and drawn out process ended with no change in location, only a change in orientation. There are not many spots for pre or post game food or drinks near the stadium. The Purple Pear is nearby. There are a couple of fast food options on Barton Street, but nothing too exciting. The best bet is to hop into the car or take public transit and head to Hess Village. The Gown and Gavel is a good selection as is the Lazy Flamingo. Other selections downtown include Undefined, and The Mule.
The Canadian Football Hall of Fame moving to Tim Hortons Field has given The Stipley another reason to come down to the stadium during non game hours. The Hall is open during non game days and well worth checking out after its reopening. Hamilton Place and the FirstOntario Centre are the other big entertainment spots in the city, hosting concerts and other shows and they are located downtown. A must-see experience in Hamilton is the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
For those looking for other sporting experiences, Forge FC of CPL share Tim Hortons Field with the Ticats. The Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League satiate the Canadian hockey fix and play at the FirstOntario Centre. If lacrosse is the jam, then seeing the Toronto Rock at FirstOntario Centre is the way to go. Also, McMaster University fields athletic teams as well. The McMaster Marauders football team play at Les Prince Field @ Ron Joyce Stadium and the basketball team plays at Burridge Gymnasium @ Ivor Wynne Centre. Hamilton also has an Intercounty Baseball League team in the Hamilton Cardinals.
For fans needing to stay in the area, downtown is again the spot to be. The Crowne Plaza and Sheraton are good selections on King Street.
In 2022, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have averaged over 21,000 fans. This may be good for fifth best in the CFL, but the difference between 5th and 1st is not huge. The Ticats also enjoy the second highest capacity percentage in the CFL. These stats are before the massive Labour Day Classic, which will assuredly improve their numbers. Ticat fans are loud and proud and bring a spirit to the game that is as strong as any of the best CFL experiences.
Getting to Tim Hortons Field can be a challenge. The Stipley is far from the major highways and fans coming in from out of town will have to travel through the city. It is located east of Highway 403, west of Red Hill Parkway and significantly south of the Queen Elizabeth Way. King and Main Streets are the main access points to the neighbourhood, but both streets being one-way, means that the traffic does flow well. Parking around Tim Hortons Field is a huge issue and there are not too many lots. There are a couple that will charge $15 to $20 and a number of residents will sell their driveway for the evening. Getting there early to find parking is the best idea if bringing the car to Tim Hortons Field. Fans interested in tailgating should head early to the lot at Chapele and Lloyd, Parking Lot E.
The response to the parking situation is a significant public transit effort. There are a number of buses that travel King, Barton and Cannon Streets. There are some Park and Ride lots throughout the city also. Public Transit is free on game days with a valid ticket. More information can be found at the HSR website.
Getting around the stadium isn’t terrible. There are definitely many sets of stairs at Tim Hortons Field and a couple of escalators to take the pressure off of the elevators would help also. Washroom facilities are more than adequate at Tim Hortons Field.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for a Hamilton Tiger-Cats run from $28 for GA in the endzone up to over $100. The majority of upper deck seats are $30 to $45. Parking can be found for a decent price or public transit is available. Concession prices are about what one would expect. The experience of a Ticats game is excellent and makes for great value for the sporting dollar.
An extra mark for one of the greatest rivalries in sports. There is nothing the Hamilton faithful love more than beating the hated Toronto Argonauts. The annual Labour Day Classic played in Hamilton each year is the top ticket for the season. Labour Day is the signature day for the CFL and the two teams have been squaring off for decades on this national holiday.
An extra mark for Tiger-Cat season seat subscribers from Box J. In Ivor Wynne Stadium, the most ardent Ticat supporters sat in Box J. At Tim Hortons Field the Honorary Box J has been set up in Section 103.
An extra mark for bringing the Canadian Football Hall of Fame into Tim Hortons Field.
An extra mark for the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Alumni Association which does a fantastic job of keeping the history of the Tiger-Cats alive with their fantastic website.
With the merger of the Tigers and Wildcats to become the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the CFL has found bedrock in the Hammer. A trip to see the Ticats at home should be in any football fan’s repertoire. OSKEE WEE WEE!!
Follow all of Dave’s sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.