Saputo Stadium Provides Experience Like No Other
November 3, 2015 | Sports
Football fans share a universal language that cuts across many cultures and many personality types. A serious football fan is never alone. We are legion, and football is often the only thing we have in common.
– Hunter S. Thompson
Although the great American journalist and author was likely talking about American football, Montrealers of many cultures and many personality types share a common liaison when it comes to European football. The “legion” and the one thing most Montrealers have in common is the Montreal Impact.
The Impact played Toronto FC in the Knockout Round of the MLS Playoffs last Thursday and walked away with an easy 3-0 victory at Saputo Stadium. Captain Patrice Bernier scored his first of the season, while stars Ignacio Piatti and Didier Drogba extended Montreal’s lead in the first half and put the game out of reach.
I was one of the 18,069 fans sitting in the freezing confines of Saputo Stadium watching Le Onze Montréalais dominate over The Reds. This was my sixth trip to the stadium since the team made their move to Major League Soccer in 2012. I have sat in four different sections of the stadium- 115, 128, twice in 120 and twice in the Ultras section. I have noticed one similarity between the different areas; the experience and view of the game is always great. Not many sports stadiums have an equally great experience at every single seat.
The club’s three supporter groups (Ultras de Montreal, 127 Montreal and the newly formed 1642 MTL) provide a boisterous and energetic atmosphere for the crowd throughout the full 90 minutes. The Ultras, the oldest and most powerful of the three, coined all the catchy tunes that might still be ringing in your head following a game. They draw the crowd in to sing their popular songs and give the team a real home-field advantage. The Ultras have given the club a distinction from other MLS clubs’ supporter groups; they sing their songs in French. This gives a European feeling at the game. In a province where the battle between English and French often divides people, you will be hard-pressed to find a true Impact fan who will complain that the “club culture” is mainly French.
he newest of the three groups, 1642 MTL, has provided a new tradition to the stadium for when a goal is scored. The group bought a 1.5 ton bell in September and had it set up in time for the team’s final regular season home game on October 26th. Mayor Denis Coderre and TSN 690 Radio host Tony Marinaro were the guests of honour to ring the bell in the past two games. The Saputo Stadium might be the only soccer stadium worldwide that sounds like a church post-goal.
The overall seating plan is a major reason to why the stadium provides such a fantastic experience. Built as a soccer specific stadium, the architecture of the building provides an intimate setting between the fans and the players on the field. Every seat in the house is a perfect view. The Impact’s marketing team has also been smart with the prices; a ticket for the last row is the same price as the first row in a section. Whether a fan wants to sit high up and watch the play, or sit lower down to get close to their heroes, they pay the exact same price.
Tickets range from $25 to $82 for an adult ticket, which is cheap comparable to the $63-$285 range for Canadiens tickets or the $29-$180 range for an Alouettes game. To put the prices between the three teams in perspective, the amount spent for a midfield ticket at Saputo Stadium would only get you within five rows of the top at the Bell Center. These prices are affordable for a family, which contributes to the fun at the stadium. In a multicultural city that is dominated mainly by middle-class families whose ancestries are from outside of Canada, it is a pleasure for those people to know that they can go watch the beautiful game for a price that won’t bust their wallet. Compared to the Bell Center, which has different sections that represent different economic classes, Saputo Stadium cuts out all differences between fans. Like a school with uniforms, everybody at Saputo is the same – and they’re all dressed in blue, white and black.
The stadium represents the city more than any other stadium in Montreal. People of different socioeconomic backgrounds, languages, races and ethnicities flock together and cheer for one common team for 90 minutes. A great atmosphere in the stands will always produce good results on the pitch, so let’s cheer loud and proud, Montreal.