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
Year Opened: 2014 Capacity: 23,218
Oskee Wee Wee, in Grey
The 110th Grey Cup game will be played in Hamilton, and the hometown Ticat fans are hoping that the beloved Hamilton Tiger-Cats can find a way to represent the Steel City in the big game. The championship has found a home in Hamilton on several occasions, including eight with the Tiger-Cats (1953, 1957,1963, 1965, 1967, 1972, 1986, 1999) The Hamilton Alerts, Hamilton Flying Wildcats, and Hamilton Tigers brought home the Grey Cup in previous eras.
In 1950, the Hamilton Tigers and Wildcats would merge to comprise the uniquely named Hamilton Tiger-Cats The Ticats are the toast of the town to this day and survived several moments, including the ownership of bombastic Toronto Maple Leafs owner, the late Harold Ballard. The Ticats were rescued by Hamiltonian Bob Young, the self-proclaimed “Caretaker” of the team and has in recent years procured additional investment to create the ownership group now known as the Hamilton Sports Group.
For the majority of their existence, the Tiger-Cats called the venerable Ivor Wynne Stadium home. With the 2015 PanAm Games being hosted in the Greater Toronto Area, the City of Hamilton would raze Ivor Wynne in favour of the new Tim Hortons Field, originally the PanAm soccer facility. With a capacity of over 23,000, “The Donut Box” is the perfect size for CFL football and is now also the home of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Food & Beverage 4
Concession options at Tim Hortons Field are about as good as one will find in the CFL. The Butcher Burger Bar, Poutine Provisions, Pizza Pizza, Stipley Snacks, and Tim Hortons are all great options. Coca-Cola products are the soft drink of choice at Tim Hortons Field and Tim Hortons beverages and Timbits are also available. Lincoln Lager by Bench Brewing is the feature local brew, which goes along with the other macro brews. There are plenty of options and fans will be happy. A good plan is to head to the Stipley area, behind the south endzone to get a BBQ sandwich at The Stack 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 composed 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 a 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 feature the Tiger-Cats Walk of Fame. Member plaques for Hamilton legends like Earl Winfield, Angelo Mosca, Joe Montford, Wally Zatylny, 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 video board, 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, Danny McManus, 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 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 that 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 Electric Diner and Radius.
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 shares Tim Hortons Field with the Ticats. If lacrosse is the jam, then seeing the Toronto Rock at FirstOntario Centre is the way to go, however, the Rock will be temporarily moving to Mississauga for part of the 2024 season and beyond due to arena renovations.
Also, McMaster University fields athletic teams as well. The McMaster Marauders football team plays 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 the Hamilton Cardinals.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats continue to have top-notch support in the CFL. In the 2023 season, the Tiger-Cats have averaged 22,500 fans per game. This is good for 5th in the CFL. However, the Ticats boast over 90% capacity which is first in the CFL. The Ticats enjoyed similar attendance statistics in the 2022 season. The Ticats are the top draw in Hamilton on the sporting scene and Ticat fans are loud and proud.
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 several 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. Several buses travel to 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 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
The Tiger-Cats provide a first-class experience that has a strong return on the investment. Tickets run from $35 up to $110, which is about what one would expect for the CFL. Parking can run from $20 to $25 and concession prices are about what one would expect. The action on the field is great and the atmosphere at Tim Hortons Field is excellent. In the end, the return on investment is quite strong in Hamilton.
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 its fantastic website.
Only time will tell if the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will get to play in front of a home crowd for the 110th Grey Cup. One thing is certain, however, fans who check out a Ticats game at Tim Hortons Field will be glad they did, yelling along with Pigskin Pete, “Oskee-Wee-Wee …”