More fans wanted

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Doug Berry wants you.

The head coach of the Blue Bombers doesn't see why Winnipeg football fans can't fill 30,000 seats on a regular basis.

"The fans we have are great fans," Berry said in a wide-ranging interview with the Sun yesterday. "It's my goal to try and get more of them. I'm used to Montreal having sellouts all the time. And I understand Montreal is a city of millions and sitting in a 20,000-seat facility. But even when we played at the Big-O, we'd be putting in 55,000 over there."

The former Alouettes assistant coach says he was surprised the Bombers didn't sell out a single game this year, even after winning three of their first four games, and five of seven.

"Yeah, I was. But being where the team had been coming from the last couple of years, I know it's not going to happen overnight," he said. "And I guess I didn't understand the pull of the cottages."

That said, Berry has been taken by the passion of local fans, something he recalls from his days visiting with the Als, when he'd be pelted by frozen snowballs on the sideline.

That same passion shows up whenever Berry is out in the community.

No privacy

"If I'm out in public, I don't have any privacy," he said. "That's totally new. And I don't mind it. That's something I know comes with the territory. I understand they want to be just as tight as they can. And here's a chance to get it right from the horse's mouth."

Berry found himself in the football saddle for five straight hours when he showed up at Touchdown Manitoba, a social for Bomber fans, at the Convention Centre Grey Cup week.

"I went in there right at 1 p.m., and I was the last one out. I don't think I was free for 10 seconds. People coming over, wanting to talk, wanting to get a picture or an autograph. It was, like, for five hours, identifying with the fans. It was absolutely great."

All the feedback, he says, has been positive.

Now he'd like to get more of them out to the stadium.

"When we play in front of 30,000 here, we know it," Berry said. "It's noticeably different on the field. I know people want to get on bandwagons ... it's going to be our motivation to make it something people want to buy."

pfriesen@wpgsun.com


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