Calgary

CFL commissioner says Calgary needs a new football stadium

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie is calling for the City of Calgary to start discussing plans to replace McMahon Stadium, which is set to play host to the Grey Cup this Sunday.

Randy Ambrosie says he hopes the upcoming Grey Cup is the last one held at McMahon Stadium

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, a former Calgary Stampeders player, said it's time to replace McMahon Stadium, which opened in 1960. (CBC)

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie is calling for the City of Calgary to start discussing plans to replace McMahon Stadium, which is set to play host to the Grey Cup this Sunday.

"[McMahon Stadium] is not up to the standards of modern sport. I'd like to see us start a conversation," Ambrosie told CBC Calgary News at 6. "I think Stampeder fans deserve it."

Ambrosie, a former second overall pick of the Calgary Stampeders, played as an offensive guard for the Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos.

"I won my Grey Cup here, I started my career here, I have a strong affection for the feeling you get to run onto the field at McMahon," he said. "But I've also walked through the stadium now and have experienced the backend, or the bowels, of that stadium."

McMahon Stadium is the second oldest football stadium in the league after Montreal's Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1915.

Unlike the Scotiabank Saddledome, which is owned by the City of Calgary and leased by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, McMahon Stadium is owned by the University of Calgary and managed by the city.

"I'd like to say this is the last time we'll have a Grey Cup at McMahon," Ambrosie said. "Looking into the future, we'll play the next one in a big, beautiful new stadium."

'You pay for it'

Despite its age, any plan to renovate the nearly 60-year-old stadium is bound to hit roadblocks. 

After years of debate, the City of Calgary announced it had come to a deal with the ownership group behind the Calgary Flames to split the cost of a new hockey arena.

That arena, which is projected to cost $550 million, will replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome, first opened in 1983. 

Responding to Ambrosie's interview on CBC Calgary News at 6, Coun. Druh Farrell voiced her disapproval to the city shelling out any more public dollars for new arenas.

Ambrosie cited the example of Regina's Mosaic Stadium, which opened in 2017 and cost an estimated $278 million to build.

"This has been, perhaps, the most successful team in the last two decades, and this is one of our great football cities," Ambrosie said. "You look to Mosaic Stadium. That would raise the level of football here in southern Alberta."

With files from CBC Calgary News at 6

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