York Lions Stadium – York Lions
The new pride of the Lions
For five years, the York Lions have looked across campus, yearning for better days. In 2015, York University in Toronto opened York Lions Stadium for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games being held in the GTA. The former CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium was home to athletics and would also eventually host the 2017 North American Indigenous Games and the 2017 Invictus Games. The Lions were a stone’s throw from Alumni Field @ York Stadium, a much less comfortable or modern stadium.
The question always seemed to be why York Lions Stadium could host the York Lions football team. Renovations to the stadium would take place, including a new grass pitch and the removal of the running track to make York Lions Stadium a suitable facility to host USports football and Canadian Premier League football. In 2021, the Lions would play their first home game at their new home against the Toronto Varsity Blues in a downpour.
The York Lions, formerly the York Yeomen, have fielded a football team since 1968. The past two decades have been particularly difficult for the Lions who have not made the playoffs since 2004. The Lions remain one of only two USports football programs never to win. a conference title. With any luck, the Lions’ new home can help change their fortunes and greater success can be found on the grill in North Toronto.
Food and drink 2
Concession options are quite limited at York Lions Stadium. During the game that was reviewed, there were three food trucks parked behind the south end area providing food to patrons. There is a regular concession stand at York Lions Stadium, but for the game being reviewed, this is where the team’s branded apparel was sold. Bearing in mind that the game that was reviewed was the first of the season and before the vast majority of students were on campus and before regular classes began, the concession situation may be different for games. later in the season.
The York Lions went from one of the worst facilities at USports to one of the best. York Lions Stadium offers a unique, modern stand on the west side of a brand new north-south facing synthetic turf pitch. There is no actual main entrance as the main structure on the west side offers two doorways at each end. For Lions games, the south entrance is not available and fans must enter from the north side through Gate 1. Compared to other USports football venues, the Main Stand is a skyscraper and can be described with precision as tall and lean.
Outside Gate 1, where the ticket office is also located, is a unique and eye-catching Aboriginal stone artwork. The exterior of the main stand is more functional than beautiful, but the materials and colors used are nothing to sneeze at. It is clear by the size of the main building that there is more than just a set of football seats. Beyond the south end zone is a video map that is the best in the league and the Lions game day staff use it well for video streaming and displaying minor stats.
Once past the ticket entrance, fans must climb two flights of stairs to the main, exterior lobby behind the seats. Nine sections of traditional plastic stadium chairs make up the seating area, which sits on a steep slope, keeping fans as close to the action as possible. There are no bleacher seats, other than those above the press box, which are not used for Lions matches, which is a massive improvement over other OAU facilities. The press box and suites provide Lions with the ability to accommodate media and VIPs not available in the league. Overall, the physical building offers a host of possibilities and is conference class.
The gameday vibe is student-run and quite simple. Fans ascending the stand from the north end are greeted by a double line of cheerleaders welcoming them to the game. Players enter the playing field from the southwest corner through a large inflatable lion and a smoke machine. The sound system at York Lions Stadium is top notch and does not produce annoying echoes that are often found in other stadiums. The Lions cheerleaders cheer from the bleachers which is unique, and the mascot, Yeo, can be found busting out promotions and wandering the sidelines.
York University is located in the northern end of Toronto, in what was once the city of North York before the merger. With Steeles Ave. at the northern border of the Keele campus, where York Lions Stadium is located, there are a few pre- and post-game dining options available.
The York Lions home ground is a full roster of sports teams, including basketball, which plays at the Tait McKenzie Centre, and hockey at Canlan Ice Sports York, both located on the Keele campus. CPL’s York United FC and MLR’s Toronto Arrows also share York Lions Stadium with the Lions football and soccer teams. Sobeys Stadium is also on the campus of York University and it is here that the Canadian tennis tournament takes place.
There are other major sports in Toronto, but all of them are in the south end of the city while York is in the far north. The Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Marlies all play near Lake Ontario in the south. The University of Toronto hosts Varsity Blues football, basketball and hockey among other teams and Metro Toronto hosts basketball and hockey in the old Maple Leaf Gardens.
There are plenty of other tourist advisories in Toronto. At the north end of town, fans are just minutes from the city of Vaughan, home to Canada’s Wonderland and the Vaughan Mills mall. Also, up the street from the campus gate is Black Creek Pioneer Village. Further south, the theater scene is among the best in North America, and in late summer the Canadian National Exhibition is held at Exhibition Place.
For visiting fans, there are plenty of places to stay. Fans might want to consider the Best Western Toronto North York and Staybridge Suites Toronto-Vaughan, which are very close to York University.
A York Lions football fan is the definition of a diehard. For those who have been following the program for many years, there is not much to cheer about. It is difficult to assess OUA football fans as attendance figures are not continuously released. The game that was reviewed had around 800-1000 fans in attendance. It should be noted that this game was planned before the start of classes and that the majority of students had not yet made their way to campus. More fans are expected to be in attendance later on, but there were a surprising number of in-house York supporters to mingle with the visiting fans.
York Lions Stadium is located near the Black Creek neighborhood of Toronto. It’s not difficult to get there, however, traffic from Toronto, even in the north, is heavy. Steeles Avenue, the northern border of campus, is one of the busiest streets in the city. However, the proximity to highways 400 and 407 is very close. Traveling fans should be aware that Highway 407 is a toll road. There are sufficient parking spaces on campus and fans will be charged a nominal parking fee.
York uses the Honk app to facilitate payment for parking. For fans wishing to take public transportation, the Pioneer Village station is located at the north end of campus, near the stadium. Fans can take the TTC from here to Union Station if they wish. There are also York Region Transit buses that stop at the Pioneer Village station. Fans should check the tax included Where TRA websites for fares, maps and timetables. Getting around York Lions Stadium involves many stairs. Those with mobility difficulties may find challenges here. There is plenty of space behind the seating area for fans to stand or sit with wheelchairs if needed. Toilets are adequate for the establishment.
Return on investment 4
York Lions tickets are only $10 for adults. There is a $2.50 discount for seniors and youth and York University students and children under 12 are free. That’s a terribly low price for any type of sporting event. The only thing keeping this ROI score from being perfect is the Lions’ lack of success on the pitch. With better facilities, maybe a better product will appear.
A further mark for York University’s investment in its football program by completing renovations to York Lions Stadium and inviting the football team to play there. An additional mark for the Red and Blue Bowl, which is a rivalry game played by York each season against the Toronto Varsity Blues. In some cases, a win in the Red-Blue Bowl is the only win either team will get during the season.
The longing has come to an end and the York Lions are safe in their new lair. York Lions Stadium provides the Lions with one of the best football facilities in the conference, if not the best. It will be interesting to see if this can translate into bringing in some better talent on the pitch and a few more ticks in the ‘W’ column.