That'll be a party

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

The Grey Cup is coming back to Winnipeg.

A high-ranking CFL official confirmed to Sun Media yesterday that the Manitoba capital will host the big game -- along with the even bigger party -- in November 2006.

The Winnipeg Football Club has scheduled a press conference for 12:15 this afternoon in the Blue and Gold Room, where CFL commissioner Tom Wright, in town for the club's annual Legacy Dinner, is expected to announce the details.

"It's probably the Grey Cup," the CFL source said.

Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer wouldn't confirm or deny the report last night, but his words spoke volumes.

GOOD THINGS

"A lot of good things are going to happen this week," he said, mentioning also tonight's Legacy Dinner and Khari Jones' return to Winnipeg on Friday.

Winnipeg last hosted the championship in 1998, when the Calgary Stampeders edged the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a last-second field goal by Winnipeg native Mark McLoughlin.

It wasn't exactly a resounding success at the gate, however, as the event barely broke even. Only 34,000 fans attended the contest because of high ticket prices and a bad Bomber team that had no hope of playing in it.

The Bombers flirted with the idea of going after the 2002 Grey Cup, but the organization was too deep in debt for the bid guarantee. The club has been erasing that debt and is now on relatively solid financial footing. It announced in March that it had formally placed a bid for the 2006 game, and it's believed they had little or no competition for the right to host it.

Part of that bid included the City of Winnipeg receiving a request from the Bombers for financial support.

That request will be debated at this morning's Executive Policy Committee meeting. The football team has asked the city to ensure a bid guarantee of $1.55 million, which would only be needed in the event that the Grey Cup game lost money.

Mayor Sam Katz said that's an unlikely scenario, given that the numbers he's been provided predict the game would make money as long as more than 15,000 tickets were sold.

More than 50,000 fans have attended each of the last three Grey Cup games in Regina, Edmonton and Montreal.

Deputy mayor Mike Pagtakhan said both the EPC and city council would likely support the Bombers' request. He wasn't worried the city would ever have to pay out the money.

"I think (the game) would make money for sure," he said.

Pagtakhan noted that the province has already promised the money, contingent on the city doing the same. The city has asked that the province's money be accessed first in the unlikely event that the game loses money, he said.

This year's Grey Cup is slated for Ottawa's Frank Clair Stadium on Nov. 21, while the 2005 championship will be played at B.C. Place in Vancouver.


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