New Mosaic Stadium easily makes the cut

An introductory inspection of the gleaming new Mosaic Stadium momentarily morphed into the Tour DeFrance.

There, on a wall in the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ players’ lounge, was a display listing every one of the CFL team’s all-stars and Plaza of Honor inductees. And there was the name of Chris DeFrance, whose printed presence somewhere in the $278-million pigskin palace allowed a rumpled scribe to shakily justify the tacky lead paragraph.

Back in the 1980s, when DeFrance and fellow slotback Joey Walters provided most of the Roughriders’ highlights, a new stadium was unimaginable. The addition of an upper deck, which opened in 1979, was thought to be the ceiling as far as upgrades were concerned.

Suffice to say that things have changed.

On Sunday, members of the local media were given a guided tour of the Roughriders’ 47,000 square feet of space at the $278-million Mosaic Stadium — not to be confused with the now-obsolete, $2.78 Mosaic Stadium.

There had been sneak previews on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like, but there was nonetheless a lingering curiosity.

What would the dressing room look like? What kind of amenities would there be? And would the tour be catered?

There was, as it turned out, plenty to digest.

Consider the barber shop, which will give an entirely new meaning to “clipping” and “final cuts.”

Nearby, the Roughriders’ expansive dressing room has all the trimmings. Gone are the days, we presume, when the every-day activities would be interrupted by infiltrators such as mice and bats.

(Yes, there is already a nameplate for No. 8, Vince Young.)

The finest touch was unquestionably The Ivan Gutfriend Training Room.

“This Training Room is dedicated to Ivan Gutfriend for his long-standing association with the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club as the Head Athletic Therapist,” a prominently placed plaque reads. “Through his 38 years of dedicated service, he won 3 Grey Cups and became the longest-serving staff member in the history of the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club. He had a profound effect on the lives of countless players, colleagues and fans. Ivan worked tirelessly for the betterment of the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club. Ivan’s colleagues have come together to name this room in his honor.”

(A sporting suggestion: Name the press box The Bob Hughes Media Centre.)

For this oldster, an especially impressive aspect of the tour was the time and effort the Roughriders invested in ensuring that the team’s storied history was showcased.

In a meeting room for the offence, large displays are dedicated to Ron Lancaster and George Reed.

A collage of photos, depicting the team as it transitioned from the Regina Rugby Club to the Regina Roughriders to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is conspicuous in a hallway.

Going from right to left, there are images of Park de Young and, of course, Taylor Field. Roughriders luminaries such as Lancaster, Reed, Kent Austin, Ray Elgaard, Alan Ford, Gene Makowsky and Darian Durant are shown.

Even with all the nostalgic flourishes, the new stadium radiates progress.

Consider the 120-seat players’ meeting room … the hydrotherapy area … the coaches’ offices that, for a change, are not glorified closets … the spacious equipment room, where leaky or protruding pipes will not be an occupational hazard … the grand staircase (no more ramps!) … and the state-of-the-art four-slice toaster.

“The old one was probably just a single-slicer — one of the ones where you had to crank the heat up to 12,” Roughriders director of media relations and football communications Ryan Pollock said.

All this for $278 million — which is certainly a lot of bread.

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