A major feature of the Commonwealth Games bid, and one of the reasons why Edmontonians were so supportive of the idea of hosting the games, was the prospect of a legacy of first-class sports venues in the city. Although the Games Committee struggled to keep costs down, and some criticism was leveled by athletes and officials at the Commonwealth Stadium track and other facilities, by the end of the games most felt that the venues and organization of this massive undertaking had been excellent.
When the Commonwealth Games flag was raised at the opening ceremonies on August 3, 1978, the long years of planning, fundraising and construction were finally complete. New construction for the games included some new venues such as the Kinsmen Aquatic Centre, which has remained a major centre for competitive swimming and diving as well as one of the city's most popular fitness and leisure centres. The Commonwealth Lawn Bowling Green was also built for the games, as was the Argyll Velodrome and Strathcona Shooting Range. Other existing facilities were refurbished to host portions of the competition. The Northlands Coliseum was the venue for gymnastics, the Jubilee Auditorium hosted weightlifters instead of travelling musicals and high school graduations, and the University of Alberta's arena and gym were used for badminton and wrestling.
However, the jewel in the Commonwealth Games crown was the Commonwealth Stadium, which hosted athletics, and the opening and closing ceremonies. Immediately after the games, it became home to the Edmonton Eskimos as Clarke Stadium was replaced as the team's home field. The stadium was one Canada's largest, and other teams such as the Edmonton Drillers soccer club used the stadium as well.
So successful were the Commonwealth Games, that Edmonton chose to host another international sporting event – the Summer Universiade Games in 1983. This event featured student athletes from around the world (totalling approximately 2,400 athletes from 73 countries), but it failed to capture the public imagination quite the same way that the Commonwealth Games did. It did have one major legacy for Commonwealth Stadium however, which was expanded by about 18,000 seats to a total capacity of just over 60,000 people. Additional seating can be added, and 62,531 people attended the 2002 Grey Cup game at Commonwealth.
With the new seats, Commonwealth became Canada's largest permanent stadium. As a result it has become a favoured site for large international events such as the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, the 2002 FIFA Women's U-19 World Cup of Soccer, the 2005 World Masters Games, the 2006 Women's World Rugby Cup, the 2007 FIFA Men's U-20 World Cup of Soccer, and it is often used by the Canada Men's National Soccer Team as a home field. Commonwealth has hosted the Canadian Football League Grey Cup in 1984, 1997 and 2002. It has even been used for outdoor hockey, the 2003 Heritage Classic Hockey Game featuring the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens.
Much of the appeal of the stadium for soccer, rugby and football teams is that it is still a natural grass field. Over the years, ideas of "improving" the stadium with artificial turf and a dome or roof have kept being raised, but traditionalists have won out so far, and Commonwealth remains a grass field stadium open to the elements of Edmonton's capricious northern climate – so you can still freeze the field for hockey or shiver through a late November Eskimos game just as people did at Clarke Stadium in 1938.