Ivor Wynne Stadium has taken a lot of heat over the years.
It’s been called an old, ancient dump.
But it also has a certain charm that seems to mesh well with Hamilton’s blue-collar football fans.
Tiger-Cats fans are both celebrating the news they’ll be getting a new stadium, and sadly bidding farewell to a place that feels like home.
Tabbies receiver Dave Stala grew up minutes away from the landmark.
“I used to hang out here as a youngster,” Stala said.
“And I played high school games here, too.”
When the 2012 season closes, Ivor Wynne will be torn down in favour of a state-of-the-art stadium, which will be built in the same spot.
Stala said it’s the fans who have made the old stadium what it is.
“As a fan, it was pretty cool being able to come here and watch the games when I was younger,” he said.
“I saw the Grey Cup when Toronto won (over Edmonton in 1996), so I have a lot of memories in this stadium.
“It’s always been a fun place to watch games and the fans have always been rowdy. That’s the best part.”
Ivor Wynne is known for the fans being right on top of the players, thanks to the baseball-style dugouts replacing traditional benches on the sidelines.
It’s also known for having one of the worst visitor dressing rooms in the league.
Stala says the Ticats’ room isn’t great, either.
“It’s not much better, but
I think we have (air-conditioning) on our side, so it’s a little bit better,” he said.
“I’ve sat in the visitor locker-room and I’ve sat in ours. It feels a lot better being in ours. We’ll have an opportunity to play in a new stadium in the next few years. It’ll be great, but this is a great stadium.
“It’s definitely time for a change. It’s been here for a long, long time. It’s one of the oldest in North America.”
Only Soldier Field in Chicago is older than Ivor Wynne, which was built in 1928 and opened in 1930 to host the British Empire Games.
It was known as The Stadium, then Civic Stadium and, in 1970, it was renamed in honour of the chairman of the city parks board.
The Tiger-Cats have called the 29,600-seat stadium home since 1950.
But Ticats receiver Andy Fantuz is eagerly awaiting the new stadium, which will host the 2015 Pan-Am Games.
“We’re really looking forward to the new stadium,” Fantuz said. “Hopefully, it’s ready in two years.
“There’s some leaks and some cracks and some creaks here. I think some people don’t feel too safe in it, so it’s time for a new one.”