Blue deal or no deal?

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

A couple of questions to ponder as the high-flying Winnipeg Blue Bombers prepare for another visit to Hamilton, site of their last crash back to earth.

- Can the team that's pitching a perfect five-for-five when it comes to sellouts do it again when the Tiger-Cats pay a return visit at the end of the month?

"This is the one that'll show," Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer was saying yesterday.

Not to downplay the first five big crowds, but the Bombers did have the whole Milt Stegall record chase to sell for four of them, then the Banjo Bowl this past Sunday, a game with a natural marketing hook -- not to mention a couple thousand loogins making the drive from Regina.

But Hamilton? The CFL return of quarterback Casey Printers will be old news by then, as the former B.C. Lions star will make his Cats debut this Saturday.

No, with the Ticats in the CFL East basement, the Bombers will be the show, Sept. 29, all on their own. No touchdown record. No banjo-picking inbreds. Just a pretty darn good football team fighting for first place.

As Bauer said, this will be the test: have football fans in this town flipped, or was the first half of the season just a blip?

Either way, seeing a jam-packed stadium five weeks in a row brings us to our next question.

- What should David Asper be paying for this team, and where should the money go?

As you know, Asper plans to take over what has been a community-owned team the last 70-plus years.

He's spent the last little while going through the team's books and fleshing out his plans for a $120-million stadium, no doubt also trying to get a feel for how the federal government might be able to help him out. He's offered to contribute $40 million, if taxpayers contribute $80 million.

But is that enough to turn over the franchise?

Because as the sellouts pile up and ticket demand keeps breaking records, the value of the team is rising.

What it's worth is hard to determine.

"You have to have sustained revenues for that to be factored in," Bauer said. "If you had three years like that, it's a whole other deal. It's definitely worth more than it was in 2000. In 2000, the place was probably worth nothing."

That's because it was more than $5 million in debt and almost bankrupt.

The only way you can really determine the value of a CFL franchise is to see what they've sold for in the past.

A little more than two years ago, the current owners in Calgary paid a reported $6.5 million for the Stampeders. But they were also responsible for severance packages worth another $1 million, or so.

Four years earlier, Michael Feterik bought the Stamps from Sig Gutsche for a reported $10.5 million. But he also took over some $3 million in debt.

Toronto and Hamilton also got new owners this decade, but both had been basically abandoned by their previous owners and left in the league's hands. No doubt Ticats super-geek Bob Young and Toronto big wheels David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski got their franchises at Kern Hill-type prices.

Asper will be taking over a Bomber franchise that's more popular than it's been in decades, and one whose bank account, already sitting at between $3 million and $4 million, will be fattened by at least $1 million in profits this season.

"We're going to have a good year, no doubt about that," Bomber chairman Ken Hildahl said.

So what should Asper be paying? Or is his stadium contribution enough? And where should the money go?

"We haven't got into that level of detail, yet," Hildahl said.

I'd be curious to know what you, the loyal reader, has to say.

This is your team, after all.


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