Saturday, June 30, 2018

B.C. Lions 22 at Edmonton Eskimos 41 - June 29, 2018


After a short drive from Calgary up venerable Highway 2, I arrived in Edmonton for my second CFL game in as many nights. After dropping off my wife and baby at the hotel, I headed over to the stadium. For some reason, I had thought the game was at 7 and showed up an hour before, only to find few fans around. A quick glance at the ticket window showed my error, so I returned downtown to do a bit of shopping, getting back to the stadium just after 7.



The Eskimos play out of Commonwealth Stadium, built in 1978 for the Commonwealth Games. With a capacity of 56,302, it is the largest open-air stadium in Canada. It is easily accessible from downtown on the LRT, with the Stadium station just two stops away from Central; if you have a game ticket, the ride is free. From the station, the stadium is just a minute away; the picture below is taken from the platform.



Good seats were $61 so I thought I'd wait around at the ticket window to see if anyone had an extra, and eventually someone did, though he wanted to make sure that I would not sell it. I mentioned that I was in Calgary the night before to prove that I was not a scalper, and that convinced him. Free football!



I immediately made my way in and did the obligatory lap around.  As in Calgary, the stadium is set up with east and west stands, with the sun shining into the east stand at the start of the game. As my seat was on the east side, I was happy with the later start as the sun moved behind the west stands early in the second quarter.



Sections N-Z are on the east side, while A-M are in the shade. The upper deck uses the same section numbers and doesn't renumber the rows, so you can get as high as Row 84, which I have not seen anywhere else. One thing that I like is that the seats at the end of each row also have the section posted on them to reduce confusion.



There are seats in the north end zone but they are mostly covered with tarp, as are the end sections in the upper deck.



The south end zone has some group areas and suites, as well as some party areas with tables.



You can walk along the concourse here, though the party tables are blocked off so you can't take a picture from directly behind the goal posts.



The concourses are underneath the seating bowl and contain banners of past Eskimo greats. My Dad grew up in the area and often mentioned names such as Normie Kwong and Jackie Parker as players he followed and it was nice to see them honoured here.



There are smaller fixed concession stands along the concourses here with typical offerings, but you are better off visiting the larger concession areas that open up off the concourse, helpfully dubbed East Concession and West Concession. Here you will find a wider variety of food scattered throughout a number of different stands. Try the Green 'n' Gold Dog for a bit of local flavour; it comes with mac'n'cheese and bacon bits and is quite tasty.



The stadium has resisted the trend towards corporate naming, but when the Eskimos play, the venue is officially called The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, after a large Canadian furniture store.



Going up high allows you to see two other venues: Northlands Coliseum, the former home of the Oilers...



...and Rogers Arena, to the right of downtown in the photo below.



As the stadium was built for track and field events, there is some distance between the stands and the field. The best seats are probably between rows 20-30 along the sidelines, but the view from up top is not bad either.



There is no distinct pattern to the seat colours here, but it does look quite different depending on the sun. The west side appears gold (above), while the east seems more yellow when the sun is shining on it.



The Grey Cup titles are shown along a glass display above the south end zone, including the 2015 title that I saw in Winnipeg.



Fans here were more sedate than those in Calgary, and a bit quieter without all the cowbells. I didn't see anyone here trying to get drunk like I did in Calgary, though that might be due to my seat location; at McMahon Stadium I was not in the good seats like I was here.



A final panorama shot from the top of the west stand. This is really a beautiful stadium that has aged very well in its 40 years and definitely worth a visit for any stadium traveler that wants to get to Edmonton in the summer.

The Game

The B.C. Lions, fresh off a bye week after winning their opener, were in town to take on the Eskimos who were 1-1. The Lions got the ball first and drove to the Edmonton 30, only to net just a single point on a missed field goal. When Edmonton QB Mike Reilly was intercepted on their first drive, the Lions promptly scored a touchdown. Then the ensuing kickoff was fumbled and the Lions again had excellent field position on the Eskimo 23, but they had to settle for a field goal to make it 11-0. The fans groaned noticeably as a blowout seemed likely, but the Lions were leaving plenty of points on the field.



After intentionally yielding a safety on a punt deep in their own zone, B.C. drove on their next possession and again only could come up with a field goal. On their next possession, the Lions reached the Edmonton 27, only to have the field goal attempt bounce off the upright. Instead of 28 or more points, B.C. had just 14 and, down only 12, the Eskimos realized that the game was by no means out of reach. They finally got their offense going late in the half when Mike Reilly found Natey Adjai with a 14-yard touchdown, and after B.C. punted, Reilly led another drive that culminated in another 14-yard touchdown, this time to Kenny Stafford. A two-point convert gave the Eskimos a 17-14 lead at the break.

The third quarter was all Edmonton as their defense held the Lions to just 8 plays from scrimmage while their offense added two more touchdowns. Though the convert on the first also hit the upright, another two-point try on the second made it 31-14. The Lions got one TD back early in the fourth on a QB sneak, but Edmonton matched that with a sneak of their own that put the game away. B.C. completed their exasperating evening with a punt single, while Edmonton added a field goal late to make the final 41-22.



A fun game to watch as the home team won handily after an early deficit. Glad to say that both home teams won on my brief foray in Alberta. Also note the 50/50 take-home amount on the scoreboard above: $103,972 - the West really enjoys gambling!

Notes

I spent the following week in Toronto and saw the Blue Jays split with the Mets. Having also seen the two games between those teams at home in Queens, I saw all home and away games in a baseball season series for the first time. This tidbit really wasn't worth a post of its own.

Next Up

I'll be attending a Formula E race in Brooklyn in mid-July, and then heading off to Chicago to see the Jays take on the White Sox in a weekend set. As always, recaps will be posted here, eventually.

Best,

Sean

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