Just days before the opening of new Mosaic Stadium, something just for the Rider Nation has been unveiled.
Standing 18-feet tall at the end of three fan walls is a statue of an unmarked Roughrider receiver reaching for a football and being helped up by fans.
“We wanted to represent achievement and inspiration, like really striving for something big, and we also wanted to represent the fans,” said Gregg Sauter, the Riders' vice-president of marketing and business development.
The unveiling was met with applause so it seemed the team hit the nail on the head.
To build it, they hired some of the very best in the business when it comes to sculpting, the Fine Art Studio of Rotbaltt-Amrany. The company has many famous sculptures under its belt, including Michael Jordan, Vince Lombardi and Gordie Howe.
Sauter said the design team really seemed to get the Roughriders and the vision when they came to visit Saskatchewan last year and that's why the club hired them to do the work.
“They weren't just a company that came in (to) make a statue and get paid. They were deeper than that,” he said. “They got the whole pride thing here and the fan thing here and they cared.”
“For me it was most important what the fan response was,” Roughriders president and CEO Craig Reynolds said. “I think when we set out to do the statue it's a tribute to the fans so to hear the fan response be positive was exciting.”
Helen Harvey came down for the unveiling this morning and was blown away by the statue and the entire fan area.
But the fan walls specifically had special meaning for her family. She pointed to a section of the wall that said “thanks dad” in memory of her late father.
“(He) taught us to love football and there's five of us in the family that have season tickets and nieces and nephews beyond that so football is entrenched in our family and we wanted to be part of it,” Harvey said.
That was exactly what Reynolds had hoped for when they developed the idea of having the fan walls outside the stadium.
“I see a lot of people pointing to their names and taking pictures and that's really what it was about was allowing people to be a part of the stadium.”
And for those fans disappointed this statue wasn't of some of the Roughrider greats, the club doesn't want you to worry.
“I won't go into super detail but we're not forgetting about Ron and George and you'll be very happy on how we represent our heroes here,” Sauter said.
The statue and fan walls are located on the northeast side of the stadium. Some finishing touches, including some additional work to the indigenous wall, will be done in the coming days.
On Twitter: @arielle_zerr
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