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February 7, 2019

My Section: K

CALGARY, AB - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018: The Calgary Stampeders won 23-20 against the Edmonton Eskimos at Monday afternoon's Labour Day Classic at McMahon Stadium. (Photo by Mark Shannon/Calgary Stampeders)

It would have been easy for Chris Barnes to cheer for his local CFL team.

But he always knew that he preferred red and white to yellow and black.

“I was born in Brantford, Ontario, and had the opportunity to go to a number of games at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton,” he explained. “That being said, the Tiger-Cats were never my number-one choice for a team to cheer for…there was something about the Stampeders that I always liked.”

When Barnes moved to Calgary, he was able to share his affinity for the team with his wife Tera and his mother-in-law, who were already big Stampeders fans.

In 2007, the couple – along with their young children – spent most of the season at McMahon Stadium moving from section to section.

But the following year, they settled on what has become their game-day home.

“We became season-ticket holders in 2008,” said Barnes. “In 2007, we went to almost every home game, purchasing tickets from Sobey’s. We thought the games were great entertainment value for the price. As a family we enjoyed our experiences so much that we decided to buy season tickets for the next year.

“Our Little Miss Outrider Maya was just turning two during the 2008 season, so we wanted seats that were at the end of an aisle. We actually ended up in the row that divides the upper and lower part of Section K and indeed we did get the three seats on the end of the row, which was perfect if we had to excuse ourselves with Maya. These seats gave us a great view of the game and being on the aisle it was perfect for any special events as this is where these VIPs come down to reach the field.”

Since joining Section K, the family has created some lasting relationships with those around them, specifically with the Nik Lewis Nation.

And that relationship all started with a simple gesture.

“Over the years we have gotten to know a number of people in our section and one group in particular, the Nik Lewis Nation,” Barnes said. “I’ll never forget the first time we met Brock Shepherd (the founder of the Nik Lewis Nation). He received a game ball from one of the fan challenges in the opposite end zone. Brock must have noticed that this little almost two year old didn’t miss a single game, so on his way returning to his seat, Brock stopped and gave Maya that same game ball he just received. That’s how the friendship began. We have since moved down a number of rows to be right behind Brock and his wife, their friends and a great tailgate nation.”

The Barnes family enjoys their section for many reasons.

But one of the biggest is that feeling of being a part of the game.

“One of the best parts about Section K during game day is that we are in the endzone, so be ready for some great celebrations,” said Barnes. “I don’t know if I can think of anything more exciting than seeing a Stampeder touchdown a few yards right in front of you. Being so close to the players and that goal-line, you really get to feel like you are a part of the team, and the game.”

Throughout the years, the Barnes’ have spent a lot of time at McMahon.

And it’s become a special place for their family.

From tailgating to autographs and even wedding photos.

“Tera and I were married on October 30, 2015, and we were fortunate enough to have some wedding pictures taken on the 30-yard line as well as a few pictures in our seats,” Barnes reminisced. “One of my favorite players (and people) is Randy Chevrier, so our photographers had me long snap the ball to my bride.

“Another great memory was during fan appreciation night, when former Stampeder Marquay McDaniel handed my daughter one of the signed silver footballs and one of the Stamps photographers caught that moment.

“But one of my favorite memories is our first year as a season-ticket holder, there was an autograph session at McMahon. This was one of our first interactions with Nik Lewis. He noticed this little girl walking around from table to table and he picked up Maya to sign her shirt and instead of putting her back on the ground to have her walk to the next table, Nik picked her up and handed her off to the next player. Maya didn’t touch the ground until the last player had signed her jersey.”

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