Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field will have fans for the first time in 2 years tonight

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Published August 4, 2021 at 2:18 pm

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When the whistle blows and the opening kick-off officially signifies the start of the match, Hamilton soccer fans will have already dusted off the seats at Tim Hortons Field while bearing witness to a live sporting event at the stadium for the first time since Nov. 19, 2019.

That’s when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League’s East Final.

The game happened so long ago, the Eskimos are now called the Elks.

The match Wednesday (Aug. 4) already had huge implications with hometown Forge FC taking on York United in what’s been dubbed the 905 Derby. The two sides are separated by five points in the Canadian Premier League standings, with Forge FC sitting in third on 15 pts (5-0-4) and York second from the bottom on nine pts (2-3-4).

The top four clubs at the season’s end qualify for the playoffs.

Forge is expecting a solid turnout for its unofficial home opener. The number of people in attendance is irrelevant to coach Bobby Smyrnitotis, though. He just wants to see Hamilton soccer supporters. 

“I don’t care if we’re playing here or in El Salvador with 40,000 fans, I love spectators, I love fans there. Whether they’re with us or without us, that’s the heartbeat of football. It’s the energy of the sport and it brings more to the game,” Smyrniotis said. 

In order to get the 2021 campaign started and minimize the health risks, all CPL teams are playing their matches in Winnipeg to start. The Kickoff consists of 32 games total — with each club playing eight games.

The tilt against York will be the first of at least 10 CPL home matches for Forge FC at Tim Hortons Field.

The club will still formally celebrate its back-to-back CPL championships prior to kickoff on Aug. 8 against Atletico Ottawa at 1 p.m.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be joining the fun soon.

After opening the season Thursday (Aug. 5) in Edmonton against the Elks, the Ticats will play two more on the road before playing its home opener on Sep. 6 against the Toronto Argonauts in the Labour Day Classic. 

Under Step 3 of Ontario’s COVID-19 re-opening plan, professional sports venues can accept up to 15,000 spectators seated outdoors, or 75 per cent of their pre-pandemic capacity. Tim Hortons Field can seat up to 23,218 fans — expandable to 33,000 for special events.

Photo courtesy of @BartonBattalion on Twitter

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