Green and white colours were on display from LED wristbands on fans’ wrists during the post-game presentation at the final Saskatchewan Roughriders game at old Taylor Field on Oct. 29, 2016.
There is no easy way to say goodbye, especially to a place with so much history.
I sat in the stands at old Taylor Field on Saturday night with mixed emotions. I’ve made so many amazing memories were made at this field with family and friends. I’ve sat through sun, rain, snow and wind at that stadium and I’ve loved every second. Just on Oct. 22, I sat through a rain-soaked game and it poured. Knowing that it rained outside and inside the stadium shows exactly why we need the new one.
On Saturday night, it was bittersweet to say goodbye, but there is no denying that the farewell was outstanding.
I’m not talking about the actual football game itself. The Saskatchewan Roughriders played the final game Saturday night against the B.C. Lions and the Riders lost, with a final score of 24-6 for B.C. I would have loved to see a final win at the final game. That would have been fantastic, but it was not to be.
Really, though, Saturday’s game wasn’t about winning, even though we all wished it could’ve happened. It was about saying goodbye, a final farewell. And that farewell shone, climaxing with a post-game finale that struck many emotional chords.
Taylor Field has been the home of the Riders for almost a century. More than 600 CFL games have been played at Taylor Field. We’ve seen some fantastic games and some terrible games at that field, but nothing could diminish my love for the place. It is the place where my love of football grew into the undying love I have for the Riders to this day.
I’ve sat through blowout wins and blowout losses. I’ve sat through intense, exciting games and slow, dull games. I’ve seen seasons where the Riders have been on fire, such as the 2013 season that began with the best start in franchise history going 8-1 in the first nine games and eventually culminating in the ultimate Rider Pride moment on Nov. 24, 2013.
I, and the 44,709 other people there - including Tom Hanks and Martin Short – will never forget the experience of the 101st Grey Cup game, the first one played at home, and the wave of exhilaration when we won the game 45-23 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
I’ve also seen defeat, losses and just terrible examples of football, games and seasons that aren’t memorable. I’ve never left a game early, though. Even when we’ve been losing miserably, I’ve sat and cheered loud and proud for my team. A true, hardcore fan never gives up on their team, no matter what, and I never will.
Taylor Field has created more amazing memories for me than just football. On Oct. 8, 2006, I was one of the 45,000 people at the Rolling Stones concert when they rocked the stadium. That show blew me away. It was only +2 Celsius, but the cold didn’t bother me that night. It was awesome.
Planes from 15 Wing Moose Jaw fly over Taylor
Field at the final Saskatchewan Roughriders
game at that field on Oct. 29, 2016.
This concert changed everything, as it really helped put Regina on the map for big-name concerts that rocked that field. On July 28, 2010, I was at the Bon Jovi concert, another unforgettable experience. On Aug. 14, 2013, I attended the Paul McCartney concert, which again was out of this world. These concerts created so many amazing and treasured memories. It was surreal being there for those shows.
But for me, Taylor Field is more than any one game or any one concert. It’s more than any one moment. It’s a series of experiences, like another home, that add up into memories I’ll hold close for the rest of my life.
Saturday’s farewell did the stadium justice. The Jack Semple Band, featuring three-time Canadian Country Music Association winner Jess Mokaluke and Jason Plumb, performed a special half-time show.
When the game was done and the big stadium floodlights were turned off, we were in for the biggest treat of all – a 25-minute tribute that included a light show with LED wristbands every attendee was given, video footage and history of all of the memorable moments at the stadium and special appearances by Rider legends George Reed, Roger Aldag, Gene Makowsky, Darian Durant and the Grey Cup, which RCMP members passed to Reed, who passed it to Aldag, who passed it to Makowsky, who passed it to Durant. They represented all four Rider teams to win a Grey Cup.
Nostalgia was high in the air during the entire presentation. Seeing the crowds lit up in green and white from the wristbands to seeing the Rider players with the Grey Cup to Durant’s final countdown to the end of an era before the final fireworks display lit up the sky, I found myself in tears. Taylor Field will always hold a special place in my heart.
As sung in the Green Day song that played to close the final moments of old Taylor Field, “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right. I hope you had the time of your life.”
Yes, I did.
See you next year, Rider Nation, at the new Mosaic Stadium where we will make more amazing memories together.