OTTAWA - For Kevin Scott, it was a little overwhelming.
The Ottawa Redblacks long-snapper was the first player to step on to the field at TD Place on Friday as the team practised at its new home for the first time. And it left the 30-year-old Ottawa native in amazement.
"The last time I'd seen this place was watching the Renegades at the old Lansdowne Park," he said. "This is beautiful, it's state of the art.
"Playing in the league you see the other teams facilities and stadiums and this is state of the art and in my mind one of the top in the league. It's nice to see football back in Ottawa and it's nice to be coming here."
Scott grew up watching Renegades games in the north stands at Frank Clair Stadium and remembers being in awe of the players on the field. He admits watching those games fuelled his desire to become a pro football player.
"I came out a little bit early and just kind of remembered what it was like when I was sitting in the stands and what it meant to me to see those players on the field," said Scott. "Now I get to live my dream and play for the hometown team so it's pretty great.
"Being out here is surreal. I have to pinch myself every once in a while to make sure it's still real."
Linebacker Justin Phillips, another Ottawa native with the Redblacks, said the new stadium is much more than he ever imagined.
Philips recalled the state of the stadium when the Renegades last played in Ottawa in 2005. He's blown away by the changes and can't wait to have family and friends there cheering him on from the south-side stands.
"This is a state-of-the-art facility and a class act organization and we're real excited," said Phillips. "To have CFL back in the city is going to be special.
"When I'm out in the community everyone's real excited."
The stadium remains a massive construction zone and it's hard to imagine the everything being completed in time for Ottawa's home opener July 18 against the Toronto Argonauts. But on Friday, the players and coaches were more than happy to finally take to their home field.
"It was pretty cool to walk out here on to the field into our stadium," said head coach Rick Campbell. "It was a good day.
"It's going to be a great setting."
Campbell noted Friday's practice was yet another milestone for the franchise.
"A lot of things are big steps for us and this is another big step to come out in our home and practise and have meetings and do all the things that we do," said Campbell. "I had never been on this field before (Friday)."
While the team ran drills, construction workers could be seen throughout the facility and reporters had to be escorted in wearing hard hats.
Despite the ongoing work, players say finally getting into the stadium was exciting.
"This is going to be home so that's a big thing for us," said defensive tackle Keith Shologan. "The big thing is it's nice to get in here without it being day one because none of us had any clue where we were going and underneath the stadium it's still a construction site.
"It's special because it's going to be our home and we're seeing it from the ground up."
Shologan admitted it's important the players get a feel for the stadium.
"You never know what you're going to get until you put your foot on the ground," he said. "What kind of turf it is, what the surroundings are but then again three weeks from now when our home opener comes the place is going to be totally different."
Work remains regarding the installation of the scoreboard, concessions and green space. Yet, even with all the ongoing construction, TD Place is a much more impressive facility than the concrete structure that once housed Frank Clair Stadium.
NOTES — Phillips was named Ottawa's special-teams captain. It's the first time ever he's been named a team captain. Quarterback Henry Burris is the offensive captain while linebacker T.J. Hill was named defensive captain . . . Ottawa signed international defensive lineman Chris McCoy and international offensive lineman Colin Kelly on Friday.