Bombers tweak services for 75th anniversary

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Jerry Maslowsky had to be careful when figuring out how to market the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2005.

On one hand, he has all the old-timer fans who will gladly take a trip back in time this summer as the club celebrates its 75th anniversary.

On the other hand, he has the congregation of young fans who might not give a hoot about the exploits of a Ken Ploen or a Leo Lewis.

That meant Maslowsky, the Bombers vice-president of sales and marketing, had to reach a happy medium when pushing the team.

"Reliving the past is going to be important, but from a season-ticket perspective, when you're looking at the 18 to 34 age group, 75 years doesn't really mean a lot," Maslowsky said. "So we have to really balance it, and in our marketing this year what you see is "Free the Fan."

"It's kind of letting the fan out of you at a Bomber game. Just cut loose from your every day, because there's a Bomber fan hopefully in all of us somehow. It's all about the fan.

"The 75th is very important to it, but we didn't take that as our complete focus."

The fans will find out later this month if they will be going to games in a new stadium when the franchise celebrates its 80th birthday, but this season they'll have to settle for minor upgrades at Canad Inns Stadium.

Maslowsky said the club will make better use of its concessions area, there could be a surprise for fans visiting those concession stands, and there is a new music provider for games.

FRESHEN THAT UP

"We're trying to freshen that up," Maslowsky said. "It's an event to keep fans involved throughout the season."

In addition, the club has constructed a tent on the southeast corner of the field that it will rent to sponsors for each game. The space will hold up to 250 people and can also be used for events on non-game days.

"Now that we own the facility and things like that, you look for other revenue opportunities," Maslowsky said.

In the end, however, the big off-field news is the 75th anniversary, as well as the look-ahead to the 2006 Grey Cup.

The official 75th anniversary celebration will take place during the Oct. 10 home game against the B.C. Lions. Maslowsky wouldn't go into details about what kind of party will take place.

During the other eight home games, the Bombers will trot out former players to serve as honourary captains, and they will play vignettes of memorable moments on the JumboTron.

"Seventy-five years of a community football team is a credit to this community," Maslowsky said. "... The team is (part of the) fabric of this community, and many generations of fans have been able to share many memories over the years."


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