REGINA – The City of Regina is quickly becoming a destination for some big-name musical acts and sporting events.
One could say Regina was put on the country’s radar back in 1995, when the city hosted its first-ever Grey Cup. This was a big moment for the city, and for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, because it meant hosting a major sporting event and make considerable changes and additions to ensure the game could be held at Taylor Field (now unfortunately known as “Mosaic Stadium”).
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Taylor Field went from being able to hold roughly 28,000 people to being able to hold almost 60,000 people. Temporary stands were added to the north and south end zones, giving the Roughriders the ability to increase the number of people who saw their games that season.
The largest crowd ever at Taylor Field took place during one of the last games of the regular season (and which yours truly attended as a young tyke). The Riders were taking on the Calgary Stampeders and roughly 56,000 people packed the stands to see this game. An aerial shot taken during the game is still impressive to see, nearly 20 years later.
The Grey Cup game itself is notable for two things. One, on that day there were 80 kilometre per hour winds gusting through the stadium, causing organizers and team officials to worry about the stands standing up to the harsh Saskatchewan weather. It was a game-time decision, but all spectators were allowed to sit in the expansion seats.
The second notable thing about the game was the fact it was the only time an American-based team won the Grey Cup. The Baltimore Stallions defeated Calgary to take the cup back to D.C. The next season, the Stallions folded and moved to Montreal.
Fast-forward to the 2000s and now. In 2003, Regina hosted the Grey Cup for a second time, with the Edmonton Eskimos winning the game in more favourable weather conditions.
In the past few years alone, Saskatchewan has hosted five major events that have caught the attention of not just the country, but also across the border into the U.S. and even across the world.
Here is a list of major events that have taken place in Regina since 2005:
-The 2005 Canada Summer Games were held in the Queen City, showing the country that Regina was still capable of holding a massive sporting event, one which brought athletes and spectators from all across the country.
-The Rolling Stones played not one but two back-to-back shows at Taylor Field. The first show sold out so quickly the band decided to perform another show to meet the interest of fans. The first night – which was actually the second-scheduled show – occurred when the weather was incredible beautiful. The night-time temperature was around 20 C. The next night – the originally-schedule show – saw the weather drop down to a chilly 9 C.
What was really intense about the show was the fact – thanks to the miracle of pure oxygen – Mick Jagger ran full-out from one end of the stage to the other and was still able to sing his next line without sounding out of breath. Considering the stage stretched from sideline to sideline – which is about 65 yards across – that’s pretty damn impressive for an older guy.
– The next big act was Bon Jovi, who also sold out the stadium to thousands of adoring fans. With all of these concerts, the infield was converted to seating, allowing more people to pack the venue. All of these concerts averaged around 44,000 people.
– Just recently, one of the most iconic Beatles of all-time, Sir Paul McCartney, landed in Regina for the final stop in his North American tour. His three-hour show was a tour de force, with music showcased from his time as a Beatle, with Wings and as a solo act. To paraphrase Wayne from Wayne’s World: I’d give my right eye to have seen this show. Heck, I personally would have given up my first born to see this legend.
Not every ticket sold for the show, unfortunately, causing organizers and some Reginans to believe we may not get any other bigger acts if we don’t sell out these kinds of shows. But even if a few hundred tickets don’t get sold, for 44,000 people to show up is still a big draw for other big-name headliners.
– Finally, to cap off the year, the Queen City is hosting its third Grey Cup. Many people are hoping the Roughriders appear in it and continue a tradition that has occurred over the past few years. During the past two Grey Cups, the host team has appeared in the game and won it. If Saskatchewan were to appear in the game and win it, it would be the team’s fourth Grey Cup victory in its 101-year history.
And there you have it. For nearly 20 years, the City of Regina has played host to big name musical acts and sporting events. And with a new stadium being built for 2017, the future is looking brighter than ever.
Jason Antonio is the Regina correspondent for Spectator Tribune.