Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
252-254 Columbia Street W
Waterloo, ON N2L 0A1
Stadium opened: 2009
The Waterloo Warriors are coming off of a few seasons of success that they were not used to. It has been a number of years for the OUA football squad to recover from the unjust, unfortunate and unprecedented suspension of the program after a handful of player positive drug tests. The Warriors introduced coach Chris Bertoia to the mix who immediately paid dividends with the recruitment of the Ford twins, each of which have now moved on to the Canadian Football League. Tre Ford brought the Warriors some unprecedented success with the program’s very first Hec Crighton Trophy winner in 2021 as the Most Outstanding Canadian Football Player in the country. The Warriors have been playing football since 1957 and have enjoyed relative success including two Yates Cups as conference champions.
The home of the Waterloo Warriors since 2009 has been Warrior Field. Built in response to the desire not to play on the home turf of the rival Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, Warrior Field has been a work in progress over the years. The erecting of the Feridun Hamdullahpur Field House behind the football stadium has provided Waterloo with an improved facility and an improved fan experience. However, there is still plenty of work to be done. With a new crop of recruits on the field, it will be interesting to see if the recent success the Warriors enjoyed was real or just a blip on the radar.
Food & Beverage 2
Concessions at Warrior Field are pretty restricted. University of Waterloo Food Services is on location and provides basic concession options including hot dogs, sausage and burgers. Vegetarian options are also available. Soda and water can also be found at the main tent. Dominos Pizza also has a stand where pizza slices are available. Warrior Field provides just enough to get by, however for fans looking for something more, looking elsewhere before or after the game would be the best idea.
Warrior Field provides a very simple structure in a wide open part of campus. Located as part of the Columbia IceField athletic complex, north of Columbia Street, Warrior Field is not an imposing structure. The turf field runs from east to west with a simple aluminum bleacher seating structure on the north side and berm seating on the south side. The most notable feature of the field would be the Feridun Hamdullahpur Field House, which towers over the field, with a large Warriors logo on the facade. The Field House provides washroom facilities and a ticketing office that were not previously present at Warrior Field. The simple, digital scoreboard is at the west end of the field along with the flag poles.
The Columbia IceField, which is attached to the Field House, offers other athletic facilities as well as the football offices. Outside of the football office, fans can find the Warrior Football Ring of Honour, which includes such Warrior football greats as Mike Bradley, Tom Chartier, John Shoniker and Dave “Tuffy” Knight. It is unfortunate that these honours are hidden away from regular fans and it is not possible to see this on gameday. Also, it would be beneficial for the Warriors to erect flags or banners commemorating the 1997 and 1999 Yates Cup Championships that the Warriors earned. It is believed that the current seating structure is relatively temporary with a more permanent structure being part of the long game.
The gameday presentation is fairly consistent with what fans would expect from any OUA football game. The Warriors enter the field from the northeast corner, running through an inflated Warrior helmet and fog machine. The Waterloo mascot, King Warrior often joins the Warrior cheerleading team on the sidelines. Select games will also bring out the small, but committed Warrior Band to provide music at the east end of the grandstand. The combination of a terrible sound system and little coordination between the band and those providing music and announcing provide a confusing situation at best. Fans often have difficulty following what is going on from a production standpoint.
Two universities, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, within the vicinity of Warrior Field make the surrounding neighbourhood very interesting.
The University of Waterloo is an urban campus so there are many nearby options. For the most variety, head over to University Ave and select from a plethora of locals and cuisines. Some spots you may want to check out will include Mel’s Diner, Molly Bloom’s and The Mongolian Grill. The other option would be to head up to King Street where Morty’s Pub is the best among a list of options.
If you can arrange to see the Warriors play in the late fall, then you may just hit town in time for Oktoberfest. The largest North American Bavarian festival brings thousands into town and is a highlight for many of the locals. There are a huge number of events for all ages and not something to miss. Otherwise, a Saturday afternoon Warriors game can lead into a great evening of jazz at The Jazz Room at the Huether Hotel, close to Uptown Waterloo.
On the campus of Waterloo, the Physical Activities Complex plays host to the Warriors basketball team and Columbia IceField is home to the Warriors hockey team. A short walk across campus leads to the campus of Wilfrid Laurier. The former home of Warriors football is now Knight-Newbrough Field at University Stadium and is home to the Laurier Golden Hawks. The WLU Athletic Complex is home to Golden Hawks basketball and nearby Sun Life Financial Arena at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex is home to the Laurier hockey teams. Across town into Kitchener, visiting fans will most definitely want to catch a Kitchener Rangers hockey game at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
If you are looking for a place to stay in town, The Inn of Waterloo and Comfort Inn are both close to the campus. The Inn of Waterloo is a more upscale stay if that interests you. Both are just a few short minutes away by car.
Fans support for the Waterloo Warriors is okay. With only four home games per season, each game tends to take on significant importance. With grandstand capacity at only 1,100, most of the time the bleachers are strongly populated. Games against rival Laurier or Guelph will bring out more fans who travel and the first game of the season is usually the most well attended. That being said, most OUA programs struggle with attendance and struggle to connect to current students. It is not unfair to suggest that there are more locals, alumni and families in the stands than students for most games.
The Feridun Hamdullahpur Field House has significantly improved the accessibility of Warrior Field. Warrior Field is located at the north end of the campus of the University of Waterloo. It is southwest of highway 85 and a pretty significant distance from the highway. To get to Warrior Field, you will be required to drive through the city a bit. Warrior Field is on the same plot of land as the Columbia IceField. You should not be required to drive through the main campus, between University Ave and Columbia Street.
Public transit options will be left to the GRT buses, of which there are a few that travel in and around the University of Waterloo. Check the GRT website for schedules and maps relevant to Warrior Field.
Parking is available around Warrior Field. There is a pay lot at the Columbia IceField and is predominantly now reserved for season ticket holders and tailgate parties. Free parking is available on weekends behind the optometry building to the east of the Columbia IceField. There is more than enough parking if you give yourself a bit of time before kickoff.
The Feridun Hamdullahpur Field House has improved the experience at Warrior Field in two very specific ways. First, the Fieldhouse now houses a permanent ticketing box office. Tickets may be purchased right at the stadium using cash or credit with relative ease and a small lineup. Secondly, and more importantly, the Fieldhouse is open during the game to offer permanent washroom facilities. The portable washroom facilities are now much more limited, with one remaining on the south side of the field, which is a huge, and welcome, change.
Return on Investment 4
Waterloo Warriors football, along with the other OUA programs, offer tremendous value for a limited investment. Tickets for the Warriors go for $12 for the grandstand and $10 for the berm with discounts offered for alumni, seniors and kids. Waterloo students are granted berm admission for free with proper identification. Concession prices are not too bad and parking can be found for free. The product on the field is plenty of fun and catching a Warriors game provides a solid Saturday afternoon of sports entertainment.
An extra mark for the Warrior Band, which has been running from 1966 and is advertised as “One of the Bands in Canada.” There isn’t really anything like it in the rest of the league.
An extra mark for the student-run nature of a Warrior game. The students run just about all of the aspects of the game, including radio and internet streaming broadcasts.
An extra mark for the University of Waterloo continuing the recent trend of investing in their athletic programs and athletic facilities.
An extra mark for the renewed rivalry against the Laurier Golden Hawks across all athletic teams. The Battle of Waterloo is better than it has ever been.
Waterloo Warriors football will not wow fans with an unbelievable production. OUA football is simple and underrated. Definitely a great place to be on a Saturday afternoon, Warrior Field does its job with room for improvement. On the plus side, the University of Waterloo has shown it is not afraid to invest in facilities on campus and hopefully will continue the trend. How the Warriors will do on the field in the wake of significan graduation remains to be seen. However, the chant of “Water-Water-Water-Loo-Loo-Loo” will remain either way.