On August 7th, 2015 I hopped on my bicycle and rode a mile from my house to Lansdowne Park to see the Ottawa Redblacks play the Montreal Alouettes. This was maybe my second or third time seeing the Redblacks, and for the first time my seat was high up in the stands.
I don’t remember ever seeing a CFL game before the Redblacks, so it wasn’t immediately apparent to me that the higher up your seat is the more exciting the game gets. Unlike hockey, the focus of the play isn’t all over the field all the time, and if you’re close to the field it’s really hard to gauge what’s going on if it’s not going on right in front of you. But the higher up you get the more you can see the entire field of play. The players start to look like x’s and o’s scurrying around, like the screen of an old-school NFL video game.
Add to that the South Side. For those that have not been to the (fairly) newly renovated TD Place stadium, the newly constructed South Side is the place to be. The main feature is a wide mezzanine about halfway up the stands. This is where you buy drinks and snacks, but the area is rife with tables and viewing platforms such that one could easily enjoy the entire game from there, and it seems that many do. It’s roomy (in that you’re not confined to your seat) and it’s social. It’s like the standing room section at Sens games except you’re closer to the action (but not too close).
I suppose the reason I am so enamoured with the South Side mezzanine is because I’m not overly interested in football as a game. I played for a season or two when I was a kid but to be honest I wasn’t that interested in it then either, nor did I really understand the game very well. It was near the end of my first season that it dawned on me what the first down thing was about. Luckily I wasn’t the quarterback.
The game ended with the Redblacks winning 26-23 which was an added bonus to the experience, but again, not one that I was very concerned with. That said I will probably keep going once or twice a season, but only on the South Side!