No stopping stadium celebration
September 17, 2016
Wet and windy weather couldn’t dampen the celebration as Queen’s University opened the revitalized Richardson Stadium on Saturday.
On the field, however, the Gaels (0-3) fell 27-13 to the No.5 Western Mustangs (3-1) in their home opener.
The celebrations to open Richardson Stadium included welcoming speeches and the presentation of the game ball from representatives of the Gaels Vanier Cup winning teams from 1968, 1978, 1992, and 2009. Fans were also entertained by live music, stilt walkers, face painters, and balloon twisters during the pregame.
The Mustangs got off to a quick start, finding the endzone on the first possession of the game. The visitors then added a rouge and a field goal, to go up 11-0. The Gaels Nick Liberatore kicked three field goals to make the score 11-9 late in the second quarter. Heading into the break, the teams traded field goal chances, but Liberatore missed to make the halftime score 14-10.
As the teams took to the locker rooms, the sky opened up and it poured on the tricolour faithful. Many fans ran for cover on the concourse under the newly constructed buildings on the East and West sides of the field. Both teams had to battle the elements as the third quarter started, with players on both sides struggling to hold onto the ball.
To start the fourth quarter, Western held a 19-10 lead after a safety and field goal. Liberatore struck back with a personal-best 46 yard field goal.
The Queen's comeback was stymied when Western turned a Gaels fumble into a touchdown, as Chris Merchant scampered 20 yards into the endzone and the Mustangs made the two point conversion to put the final score at 27-13.
Quarterback Nate Hobbs made 22 of 42 attempts and 244 yards, but was intercepted three times.
On defence, Mike Moore finished with a game-high 10.5 total tackles and a forced fumble, while Wesley Mann had 10 total tackles.
“I thought that our defence, against a really tough offence, held up just about as well as they could and our guys did a great job,” says Gaels head coach Pat Sheahan. “I thought our kids were there and I just envisioned a different outcome today. I thought we were going to take the lead in the fourth and take it. The opportunities were there for us.”
As part of the revitalization of Richardson Stadium the grandstands have been brought closer to the field, improving sightlines of the stadium’s 8,000 seats. Concession carts and other entertainment options surround the upper concourse, adding to the game-day experience.
Revitalization plans began in March 2014 with the announcement of a $10 million pledge to the project from Queen’s alumni Stu and Kim Lang. That announcement was followed by news of a $5 million contribution from the Richardson Foundation. Other donors came forward, bringing the total amount raised to more than $17 million, with the university contributing $3 million for infrastructure support. A donor recognition wall will be unveiled at Richardson Stadium as part of homecoming celebrations.
The construction of the stadium was a priority within Queen’s Initiative Campaign, which concluded this year. It is one of a number of efforts undertaken to enhance the university’s athletics and recreation facilities to promote the health and wellness of all students.