Grey Cup party off to running start

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

Get your ducats now.

The 2005 Grey Cup Game has yet to be played but the Blue Bombers have already sold packages for next year's CFL championship, to be held in Winnipeg, Nov. 19, 2006.

"We've sold several hundred packages to our season ticket holders and they have been the higher-priced tickets," club president/CEO Lyle Bauer said at the grand opening of the Grey Cup's downtown office yesterday. "So, that's a very good sign in spite of the way our season ended. Winnipeggers and Manitobans know that this is a national championship and this is a national event. It's Canada's biggest party that brings the country together. They want to be there and be part of it, so it's extremely encouraging at the early stages."

Tickets will be at a premium since capacity at Canad Inns Stadium will be limited to 45,000-46,000.

"I guarantee you that we are doing our damnedest to position our football team to be there representing this city and this province on Nov. 19, 2006," added a determined Bauer. "The first step is to review the season we just had. There were some positives, we lost some very, very tough games. We'll do a thorough analysis and evaluation is going on right now. Then, we will move forward to a full-needs assessment and go acquire those needs that can potentially put us in position to be more competitive on the field."

Although that could include replacing head coach Jim Daley, Bauer indicated that decision has been left to GM Brendan Taman. And that could be a hint that Taman will keep his job.

"There's no real timeline on that," Bauer said. "It's imperative to wait and get the input from the coaches and get the input as far as the players are concerned, get the input from the general manager and the head coach, then do an overall assessment. Then, football operations will come forward with their recommendations."

Meanwhile, the Grey Cup party could mean a $40 million to$50 million economic spinoff locally.

"First of all, we want the people of Manitoba to really, really enjoy themselves," said Premier Gary Doer, who attended yesterday's unveiling of the Grey Cup Festival logo. "It's a hard-working community but it's also a community that likes to have a good time. So, the first priority is to really, really have all of us as neighbours to enjoy each other's company and enjoy hosting the rest of the country."

Hosting the Grey Cup could also add $2 million to $4 million to the club's coffers.

"We see this as potentially laying the foundation of the football club in the future for many, many years to come so we can compete," Bauer said.


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