Players say goodbye to grass at Gordie Howe Bowl
Friends of the Bowl Foundation leading campaign for new turf
There were plenty of reasons to celebrate at Gordie Howe Bowl in Saskatoon on Monday night.
The first cheers came from the Holy Cross Crusaders after driving down the field with less than a minute left to beat Walter Murray 22-15 in the 4A City Championship.
While Holy Cross was being crowned city champions, the future of the ground they played on has even more people celebrating.
Gordie Howe Bowl is expected to get new artificial turf next season. Greg Yuel, chair with the Friends of the Bowl Foundation, didn't waste any time digging into the grass right after the game.
"It's excellent, yeah," Yuel said. "I mean nothing has changed with this field for decades and decades and decades. So to see this coming up so that we can have a playing surface that's got consistency to it is going to be outstanding."
Saskatoon Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant didn't leave without a piece of history in his hand. He picked up a big clump of the field after a backhoe dug into it.
"A lot of memories here so there's no question," Sargeant said. "I'm going to put this in my backyard and we'll save it forever. It's an historic day, but good things end and this is one of them."
Kobe Kindrachuk, quarterback for Holy Cross, said he's thrilled to have been in the last game ever played on the Bowl's rock-hard surface.
"It's crazy," Kindrachuk said. "At the start of the game our coach was telling us about how it's going to be huge for the last team to win on this. I don't think it's describable. It's just, you're playing football on an ice hockey rink."
The new turf could increase the annual usage of the field by nearly 1,500 hours.
The first phase of upgrades - which also includes new lights, score clock and sound system - is expected to cost about $4.2 million.