One last stand for stadium

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

WINNIPEG — The place is old and creaky and quite often has the smell of stale beer.

But Canad Inns Stadium has a special place in Dave Dickenson’s memories.

Both times the Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator hoisted the Grey Cup, it was at the 58-year-old football field most commonly known as Winnipeg Stadium.

Unless there is a setback in construction of the city’s new football stadium, the Stamps visit Thursday night to play the Blue Bombers will be the final time Dickenson sees the old football haunt.

“I was hoping every Grey Cup would be here, because I’m 2-0 here,” Dickenson said with a laugh. “In 1998, I was still young. The 2006 one was special because I knew I was tailing off at the end of my career.

“I knew I wouldn’t get a lot more opportunities. I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders that day. The team played as a group, and I didn’t do anything special.”

Winnipeg isn’t an easy place to pick up CFL victories, even when the Bombers aren’t a powerhouse.

Maybe the facilities have something to do with it.

Although the visiting locker-room was renovated prior to the 2006 Grey Cup that the B.C. Lions won over the Montreal Alouettes, the tiny hole underneath the west-side stands isn’t comfortable.

“The old one was a cesspool,” said Stamps QB Henry Burris. “There was poor drainage and poor air circulation.

“There were things lingering, and they were still there the next year when you came back. Now, it’s not as harsh.”

Like Dickenson, Burris has great memories of Canad Inns. He was the third-string QB behind Dickenson and Jeff Garcia when the Stamps beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the 1998 Grey Cup win.

Burris was also part of the first Banjo Bowl in 2003 as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and that took the prairie rivalry to another level.

“It really created something in that rivalry that wasn’t there before,” Burris said. “You could feel a buzz in the crowd.

“I look forward to playing in new venues, but the memories will be missed here.

“Everything I have enjoyed in terms of playing on that field will be lost and forgotten.”

The Bombers are due to move to their new facility at the University of Manitoba for the 2012 season, and it will definitely be an upgrade.

Former Bombers receiver Arjei Franklin showed up as a rookie in 2006 and thought he was in the big leagues. It didn’t matter if the locker-room wasn’t four-star quality.

“I thought it was a big deal,” Franklin said. “There was Milt Stegall practising, and I was his teammate. That was amazing.

“The locker-rooms might not have been all that nice, but in my mind, they were amazing.

“But I’m excited to see what’s in store for their new place.”

The one thing Dickenson hopes doesn’t go away is the atmosphere. They always make it tough on the opposing team.

“They have good fans,” Dickenson said. “Saskatchewan gets all the credit for having rabid fans.

“These fans are right there with them. Every game I’ve played here, it’s been loud and they are into the game. It hasn’t always been great years, either.”


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