Can't beat winning

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

When you win CFL games, you also win people over.

Although Winnipeg's next home game is nine days away, the Blue Bombers are closing in on their fourth straight sellout.

The club has already sold 21,500 tickets to the game against the Toronto Argonauts to date and there is still a lot of promoting left to be done.

"There certainly is a buzz out there," club vice-president of marketing Jerry Maslowsky said yesterday. "There are some similarities to 2001 when the team went 12-4 and to the Grey Cup. We were coming off a year when we had just gone to the playoffs for the first time in a while and there was a good mix of veterans and rookies. And there is certainly an energy going on in this city right now."

Fans flocked to the stadium to witness veteran Milt Stegall set the CFL record for the most touchdowns scored in history this year.

"It bodes well for our marketing people," said club president/CEO Lyle Bauer. "There are three factors for the sellouts -- Milt is responsible for a lot of it, the team is playing exciting football and Friday night games."

Two of the first three home games were played on a Friday and the next one is also on a Friday.

"Obviously, there was Milt's situation but there's been more than Milt," Maslowsky said. "Now, we've got (tailback) Charlie (Roberts) going after another record. But the weather's been good (for home games) and most importantly, the team is winning ... And there's nothing more exhilarating than when the team's winning on the road and the game is televised. That's a three-hour commercial."

The Bombers are atop the East with a 4-2-1 record as all four eastern sides enjoy a bye this week. Stegall has already set the record. Roberts is just 157 short of passing Leo Lewis to become the club's all-time leading rusher.

Stegall, by the way, will be honoured in a pre-game ceremony that will include both George Reed and Mike Pringle, the CFL legends that Stegall just surpassed, Maslowsky said. Both the city and provincial governments have also been invited to participate, he added. The activities will include a video of each one of Stegall's 140 majors on the Jumbotron.

"It's another chance for the city to come out and show Milt how they feel," Maslowsky said.

Although Maslowsky declined to disclose the club's budgeted attendance for 2007, Bauer said the extra fannies in the pews translates to $250,000-$300,000 more in revenue than the club realized after the first three games last year.

"It would be nice to keep that up," Bauer added.

The 18,000 season-ticket base is down slightly from last year when Winnipeg played host to the Grey Cup (which boosts season ticket sales).

"Things can change very quickly," Maslowsky cautioned. "But not only are people coming out this year, they are coming back again."

Early indications are that the Banjo Bowl in September could be yet another sellout.

Maslowsky added that corporate sponsorship has been "excellent."


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