Every Monday a Sun staffer gets to know a prominent sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton visits the front office to chat with Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer, who is in his ninth season as the big boss of the local CFL squad.
The Sun: How are things?
Lyle Bauer: Personally and professionally, things are good.
TS: Why do you like motorcycles so much?
LB: Because nobody can bother me.
TS: That's it?
LB: Well, it's also freedom.
TS: How many do you own?
LB: I only own two, but my wife (Heidi) owns two as well.
TS: She rides?
TS: Is that because you ride?
LB: How she got into it was I was turning 40 in '98 and I wanted a new bike. I told her if she learned to ride I'd give her my old one, but she didn't know my plan was to buy a new one. That's how she got in it. She went and got her licence, and now she's got a pair of them.
TS: And she loves it just as much as you do?
LB: No, I'm pretty hardcore when it comes to weather and things along those lines. She likes sunshine and no wind. But no, she likes it.
TS: You ride in the rain?
LB: Oh yeah. Rain, snow ... as long as I can.
TS: How far do you think the Bombers are from private ownership?
LB: Not very far. The stadium is part of the deal, and that appears to be the way it's going. The eye on the prize is to give the fans of Winnipeg a new facility, a new stadium, and the current ownership has served the club and the fans very, very well, but we do not have the means to build a new stadium as a community club on our own.
TS: Do you like the U of M proposal?
LB: To be honest with you, I want a new stadium for our fans. Period. Every location has its pros and cons, but you have to keep an eye on what the overall commitment is, and that's to get a new stadium. To get a new stadium you have to have everybody aligned when it comes to the funders, Creswin and the football club all on one page, and hopefully that's the place it lands and we can get going.
TS: Do you think this proposal is going to be it?
LB: I hope it is, because we've been going through this dance for several years now.
TS: But do you think it is?
LB: Do I think it is? I think it's the one that'll go, yeah.
TS: How long do you want to be running the show?
LB: Oooh, that's a loaded question. Let's just say I've been here way longer than I thought I was going to be. I thought I'd be back in private business well before now. I really did, because there were certain goals and objectives. But they change and move around. From a financial standpoint, the business model and everything along those lines has been put in place, we've hosted the Grey Cup and had two chances to win the damn thing. We haven't. That's probably the one thing that really eats at me. But the stadium issue is another one. I'd like to be around to get a new stadium done, and then after that we'll see.
TS: How are the Bombers going to do in the playoffs?
LB: If we play 60 minutes, we're as good potentially as any team in the league. But we do have a team that has to be on its game, has to play well and we have to contribute in all facets of the game. We can't make mistakes.
TS: What would it mean to you to have a sellout crowd on Nov. 8?
LB: It would mean a lot to me, but it would mean more to the guys on the field. As people know, it makes a huge difference to our players, and I can tell you: I played the (playoff) game (in 1988) when there were 12,210 people there in Winnipeg, and it wasn't much fun. A sellout crowd would be a big boost to our players, and that 13th man is all-important. We're going to have a pretty damn good Western team coming to visit.