Ownership, stadium plans hot topics

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers annual fan forum last night was mostly a rah-rah affair, especially after the brass announced that the club had $4 million in the bank.

There was, however, plenty of talk about the future of the team's ownership and where it will play.

When one fan suggested that a new stadium should be domed, seat 40,000 people and be located on the Red River Exhibition grounds, it was met with a chorus of boos.

When another fan suggested that the team remain under community ownership, it was met with a lukewarm response. When another booster said it's "time for the Bombers to move forward" with local media mogul David Asper's proposal, there was less clapping from the 300 or so in attendance at Winnipeg Sun Centre.

Winnipeg Football Club chairman Ken Hildahl said the comments and questions about the stadium and ownership issues were what he expected.

"It just really proves what our thoughts are, and that the reaction in the community is very mixed," Hildahl said. "There are people that are in favour of private ownership, people in favour of public ownership.

"... These tend to be the really dyed-in-the-wool fans. You heard the reaction to a domed stadium, which just isn't typical of the city. But for the person that comes to every game, they're traditionalists."

President and CEO Lyle Bauer also chimed in on the debate, telling fans to contact Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, their MLA and their MP for the public money that will certainly be needed down the road.

"We have to push, and the best pushers are in this room," Bauer said. "Ring those bells."

The loudest cheers of the night were for head coach Doug Berry, but Brendan Taman got the biggest laughs. When asked about signing new running backs, the GM said he will talk to Charles Roberts over the next couple months "and see which names are acceptable."

BIG BOOST: The St. James Rods Football Club has received $305,000 from the Manitoba-Canada Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund to upgrade its facility.


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