Spruce Meadows - ATCO Field
Situated on the southern edge of suburban Calgary, Spruce Meadows quite literally has one foot in the prairies and the other in urban cityscape.
Cavalry FC has transformed this showjumping home into a soccer spectacle that will offer one of the most unique professional soccer experiences in Canada — if not the world.
Sitting side-by-side with the iconic International Ring, ATCO Field is just one of several spectacular arenas inside Spruce Meadows, a venue Cavalry FC coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. has referred to as Canada’s equivalent to New York City’s “Central Park.”
Because, as the club frames it, walking into Cavalry’s venue from Spruce Meadows’ “Pre-Game Plaza” will be like walking into hallowed grounds.
Additional stands along the north balustrade at ATCO Field will boost capacity to 6,000 on Canadian Premier League match days.
The east grandstand is akin to seating at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, an old-school English stadium with columns and covered seating, the sort befitting the grandeur of Spruce Meadows.
Partially fitted with a safe standing area, the south grandstand sits just five metres from the goal line — perfect for the club’s Foot Soldiers supporters group. Players walk out to the pitch from the nearby southwest corner, under an archway that previously welcomed horses to the venue.
“It will prove to be an awesome way for opposing players to enter the stadium for the match,” Ian Allison, President of Spruce Meadows Sports & Entertainment, said. “And inspiring for our own players who will have their supporters group literally five metres from the pitch.”
Looking for a more relaxing experience? Members of Cavalry’s FC’s “Officers Club” receive hot food service, the ability to walk down to the pitch during the match, a patio, air conditioning and monitors that will show the match.
“It will be a very unique venue to watch the game, especially with the sightlines, proximity to the pitch and all the amenities you will have,” Allison added.
The northern balustrade features specially manufactured stepped seating with comfortable and movable chairs, and six large areas on the sloped grass in front where local minor soccer clubs can reserve their own area behind the goal.
Just beyond the ATCO Field balustrade sits the Spruce Meadows plaza, which is very much a part of the match day experience.
The food staff at Spruce Meadows feed upwards of 60,000 people on the busiest days at the grounds, mostly through locations like the Central Plaza.
The plaza, which is located just outside ATCO Field, is outfitted with multiple entertainment options and — for those who like to eat — a range of food options to plate any palate — including pretzels, fish and chips, beef on a bun, hamburgers, bratwurst and rotating “flavour of the world” stands. Allison also said efficiency will be a hallmark of the match day experience.
“As we know, there’s a real rush in that 15 minutes of halftime, so you need to be able to differentiate what people want,” Allison explained. “We’re going to break things up so we can move people around the grounds effectively and make sure no one is waiting as the second half starts.”
The pitch at ATCO Field has undergone a critical transformation. Staff members had to remove the water and elevated features that were part of the showjumping design. Spruce Meadows also installed a new drainage system and leveled the field, which measures 74 yards-wide by 115 yards long.
The facility’s showjumping schedule revolves around the Summer Series: a four-week-long tour that consists of several major events. Cavalry FC’s surface will be used for two of the four weeks, with space in-between showjumping and soccer that will allow the turf to recover for the rest of Cavalry’s season. Spruce Meadows already tested the field following last year’s event.
“I’m very confident we’ll be able to stay on top of it. Our horticultural and turf teams here are outstanding,” Allison said.
Cavalry FC also offer fans a complimentary bus service to/from the nearby LRT line. The grounds are also situated along the southwest corridor of Calgary’s new ring road, which is currently under construction.