Ivor Wynne Stadium will be packed and rockin’ for one last time on Saturday afternoon.
October 27, 2012 will mark the end of an era when the Tiger-Cats and Blue Bombers meet in the final regular season game at the historic building.
“The stadium is the focal point of the city - it’s located dead centre in the middle of Hamilton, I don’t think you see that anywhere else in the country,” Ticats receiver Dave Stala said.
|Photo Essay: Inside Ivor Wynne|
As one of the most storied stadiums in the world prepares to close its doors, award winning photographer Adam Gagnon captures the charm of Ivor Wynne Stadium.
» Images: Inside Ivor Wynne
The 32-year-old pass catcher grew up in the Hammer, after his family moved from Poland to Canada when he was eight years old, and has some fond memories of the stadium from when he was just a youngster.
“Growing up, I came here to the games with my buddies to heckle the other teams. As a fan it was always fun,” Stala said.
“I remember the Grey Cup game here in 1996. I came in freezing with my Tim Hortons tickets - Tim Hortons had a deal going on so I got $25 end zone seats. It was the Toronto-Edmonton snow game. I sat in the corner and remember watching Toronto win that Grey Cup.”
“I had always dreamed of playing here.”
Stala has called the stadium he dreamt of playing in home for the last four seasons, since being signed by the Ticats in April of 2009. The man Hamilton fans call ‘Sticky’ attended the last Grey Cup that was hosted at Ivor Wynne Stadium and has the opportunity to take part in the last ever game to be played at IWS.
“I was a fan once and now a player, so it’s been a good ride for me and I’m happy to play in the last game here,” Stala said. “As a player having a chance to play here, it is very unique.”
Number 88 for the Black and Gold believes the best feature of Ivor Wynne is how close the fans are to the players and playing surface.
Stala’s teammate Peter Dyakowski, although he didn’t grow up in Hamilton, has played all six of his CFL seasons in the Hammer and has some fond memories of his own from Ivor Wynne Stadium.
“My first CFL plays were on this field,” the six-foot-five, 325-pounder said. “You get a sense of history here. If you look around you can tell that it has stood for a lot of years, but I love that about it.”
Stala and Dyakowski have many on-field memories at Ivor Wynne, but they also won’t forget some incidents that happened when no fans were in the stands and it was just the team at the facility.
“Last year, on a run down day [day after a game], Dave and I were in the hot tub and we figured we’d have some fun,” Dyakowski explained. “So we filled up a bucket with water balloons and took it up to the top of the stands. We had an accomplice down in the locker room guiding people out into the parking lot for one excuse or another.”
“I remember that day,” Stala said. “We dropped some water balloons off the stadium when the guys would use the exit to the parking lot, trying to splash them, we got a few of them.”
Stala will miss some of the quirks of the old stadium.
“We only have three toilets in our locker room, it’s kind of tough for 60 guys to share. There have been pranks played, maybe some water dumped on a few guys.”
Dyakowski believes some of the jokes played in the Ticats locker room over the years came courtesy of the ‘Phantom of Ivor Wynne’.
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|