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Place making and football: They go together better than you might think

/ February 14, 2014

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Place making and football: They go together better than you might think

I recently learned that the CFL has planned to have the Hamilton Tiger Cats playing in the new Tim Hortons Field, formerly Ivor Wynne Stadium, this coming July. For someone born and raised in Hamilton, that is a rather big deal; even if you don’t follow football, if you’re from Hamilton, you know the Tiger Cats.

When I heard the announcement on the news, it got me thinking about why it was such a big deal. It was a new stadium, true enough, but it was built in the same neighborhood and was home to the same team. It wasn’t something actually new, just something renewed.

Then, I realized that I was witnessing a form of place making. For the longest time, I had no idea what “place making” meant. I don’t remember ever considering what it meant, but I imagine it was something along the lines of, “How can you make a place? They just exist; they’re not something you can create”. A few months ago, my perspective changed.

The stadium is not just a stadium, or a field. It is not just a structure or a place. It was home to brand name, something people travelled to see and to talk about. It was a source of town pride (regardless of the CFL standings at the time), and it was a place of memories. It was something that attempted to bind communities together on a national level.

For me, the new field is not important because it is new. It is important because of what it has represented in the past, and what it may come to represent in the future: a symbol of Hamilton and the people who live there. It’s valued because though the old one is gone, the message it tried to impart is still very much alive.

I don’t follow football, I’m more of a cycling person myself, but I value the Ivor Wynne Stadium of old. I can’t say for sure that I’ll be there when the doors open in July but seeing the neighborhood around it come alive again will have been well worth the wait.

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