Retractable, if you please

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Mike Hameluck remembers the days when he had to take the term "thumbtack" way too literally.

The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber was a longsnapper during his 10-year CFL career, and he often had to use tacks to grip the football in heavy rain. He would tape them to his thumbs and index fingers and then cut them down to nubs.

"I did it just so I could snap on punts and converts and field goals," said Hameluck, now a Government of Manitoba employee. "It was a little on the difficult side."

RETRACTABLE

Hameluck shared his story yesterday because he believes a new stadium built in Winnipeg should include a roof, preferably a retractable one. He is also convinced that most players feel the same way.

"There's not that many guys that are (old school), and if they are I kind of question where they're coming from," Hameluck said. "Because as a professional athlete, you want to put your best foot forward on that football field.

"And there's been a lot of injuries, serious injuries, playing in the mud and the muck and the ice and snow -- with guys slipping and tearing hamstrings and tearing hip joints and whatnot -- that are contributed to bad weather."

Hameluck remembers former teammate Roland Mangold almost drowning at Montreal's Olympic Stadium (before the roof was installed) because six to eight inches of rain water had accumulated at one end of the field and he was stuck at the bottom of a pile.

Artificial grass surfaces, which are now in place at five of the six outdoor CFL stadiums, greatly reduce the risk of drowning today, but that doesn't mean they can't be slippery.

"We certainly looked forward to going to B.C. after the dome was put up and going out there to play, because you knew you were going to play in ideal conditions," Hameluck said.

"Our climate is getting fairly nasty. The weather can change so bad, and at the professional level weather shouldn't be the dictator as to the outcome of the game."

The Winnipeg Football Club took another step toward a new stadium yesterday when a subcommittee, led by chairman Ken Hildahl, presented three proposals to the entire board of directors.

Hildahl said the third -- and still unidentified -- proposal was going to be officially dropped from consideration at last night's meeting, leaving David Asper's outdoor proposal in St. James and Leo Ledohowski's domed plan in St. Boniface as the final two.

SUMMER EVENING

Hameluck would love to see the two proposals merge and include a retractable roof. That way, fans can still enjoy games under a gorgeous summer evening or in comfort when the weather gets mean outside.

"That's why a domed stadium that opens and closes makes so much more sense," he said. "If you're going to build it, build it so you can close on the nasty days.

"If Ledohowski and Asper get together ... we can have a hell of a site."

And no more tacks.


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