Football fans in Manitoba might have to wait until 2011 for a new stadium unless government funding arrives in the next few months.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer, speaking to approximately 150 fans during last night's annual fan forum at the Winnipeg Sun Centre, pointed out that shovels have to be in the ground by the end of this season if David Asper's new facility is to be up and running by 2010.
"We've lost 2009, and if something doesn't happen here in the next 90 to 120 days, because if you are building on this site ... if you miss it by 90 days, you miss it by a year," Bauer said.
Bauer, who said the process is still going forward behind the scenes, once again urged everyone in attendance to let their politicians know that they want a new stadium.
As usual, the rest of the forum was primarily a love-in and covered a variety of topics:
- As for on-field issues, GM Brendan Taman confirmed that re-signing head coach Doug Berry to a contract extension was on his to-do list; Berry calmed one fan's nerves by saying he will do everything he can to get backup quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie more playing time; Taman said the club isn't interested in quarterback Rocky Butler, who was released by Toronto last week; and renegotiations with No. 1 pivot Kevin Glenn are going well.
- The Bombers unveiled details of their marketing campaign, whose slogan is "We've Got It Going On."
Defensive tackle Doug Brown and running back Charles Roberts will be part of a billboard campaign; in it Brown has wrecking balls for arms and Roberts has jet engines on his calves.
- The team has sold more than 15,000 season tickets, including more than 1,000 to new subscribers, and this year a playoff game is included in the package. That is being done to boost the team's dismal playoff attendance, since teams are likely going to be required soon to buy the rights to their own post-season games.
- Vice-president of marketing Jerry Maslowsky said the team is focusing this spring on attracting rural Manitoba fans, there are plans for a throwback game, and they will also be putting game-worn jerseys on EBay.
- Ken Hildahl's three-year term as Winnipeg Football Club chairman is coming to a close, but he has agreed to stay on until the stadium issue is resolved.
- It was a little strange to see Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo in attendance. Calvillo, who will speak at today's Never Alone Luncheon, received a nice round of applause from the crowd, and someone even yelled, "Sign him!"
"That warm welcome you got tonight won't be the same on August 8 when you come to town with the Alouettes," Hildahl said to Calvillo in his closing remarks.