Cup runneth over

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

Onward and upward.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers hope to realize a profit of close to $2.5 million from hosting the 2006 Grey Cup and hope to ride that momentum into a better home for the next one.

"That money is not going to help at all towards building a facility," Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer said at a press briefing yesterday.

So the club will need help to either build a brand new facility or upgrade the current, crumbling one.

"We're going to have discussions with the political masters and others," Bauer said. "Obviously, my board (of directors) will make those decisions. There's several opportunities ... that you wouldn't think the football club would be looking at."

That could include the community-owned club going private or forming some sort of private/public partnership to help finance such a venture. And if a joint agreement can be reached with the various level of government, the CFL's marquee game could return here sooner than later.

"Certainly, we'd like to see it in five-10 years in the normal circulation," Bauer said. "However, if we are fortunate enough that we're supported by some of our friends downtown, we may have a vastly-improved facility and we might have a better shot at it."

The Bombers do not know the exact amount of the Cup profit yet but it will certainly erase the club's current $700,000 debt.

"We're going to have a very healthy, seven-figure bank account once our audit's finish and moving forward into 2007," he said. "And that is not something that this club has been in position to enjoy for decades. The club before the Cup hadn't been as healthy as it is for 30 years and now, I think things will get better.

"We have laid the foundation for the football club to start a new chapter in the book."

And that would start by building a better facility.

"I'm talking about the amenities, the washrooms, the concessions and all those things and the standards that are set by the MTS Centre as well as the ball park (CanWest Global)," Bauer said. "The fans deserve it."

Bauer, however, had no idea when a decision would be made on whether to build a new stadium or revamp the existing one.

Not only was the Grey Cup a sellout, most of the events that the Grey Cup Festival offered during the week were also sellouts.

"We're thrilled," said Bomber governor Ken Hildahl. "It was a lot of hard work but, at the end of the day, it's going to pay off.

"For the first time, in 30-40 years, we have a bank account."

Bauer said the city and province can take pride in hosting such a successful event.

"The feedback we've gotten from other member clubs and people who attended is that we set a new standard," he said. "The bar has been raised a little bit as far as festivals and game-day productions are concerned.

"I'm extremely proud of the people that put it on and I'm very happy for the city because you can't buy that type of pride."


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