Another season of 3-down football is about to begin, and the dear old Canadian Football League is riding pretty high these days. In Canada’s capital, they’re redeveloping the stadium where the eastern Riders used to play, preparing for the debut next year of the Ottawa Red Blacks.
Surely that name must have been dreamed up by the Senate committee on Internal Economy, but who knows? Chances are the Red Blacks might end up winning the Grey Cup before the Blue and Gold in Winnipeg.
The Blue Bombers christened their new stadium this week, but so far the product on the field doesn’t look much different than the team that finished last in the east in 2012.
The Investors Group Field, on the campus of the University of Manitoba, is undoubtedly the finest news sporting venue in Canada, and the novelty of it should fill most of the 33,000 seats this year, as long as fans can get there.
The Bombers and the other stakeholders said they had a plan that would take care of all the concerns about getting there and finding a place to park. Opening night was quite simply a ‘nightmare’ and I don’t see what can be done to fix it in a hurry.
Fans are allowed to ride transit buses to the stadium for free, but the buses were caught up in the ‘gridlock’ along with the rest of traffic on Pembina highway, one of Winnipeg’s busiest routes.
Kickoff was at 7 oclock on a Wednesday, and even in mid-June that’s a busy time on a major University campus. The regular season begins Thursday June 27th with kickoff an hour later, but the Bombers have five Friday home games with 7 oclock start times that can’t easily be changed.
The Grey Cup drought in Winnipeg is now 23 years and counting. The quest for a new stadium was a soap opera that lasted close to a decade, and it ain’t over yet.