Unruly Bombers fans on notice

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

The Blue Bombers will crack down on boozers and brawlers at home games this CFL season.

Canad Inns Stadium has been the scene of a number of alcohol-related incidents the last few years that included patrons attacking cops in the stands and one intoxicated fan falling to his death.

To address the rapidly rising number of disturbing incidents, the Bombers will increase the number of Winnipeg police patrolling both the stadium and parking lot; they will train servers to be more careful about over-serving; and will put a “no re-entry” policy into place so fans will no longer be allowed to leave, consume alcohol elsewhere, then return.

“We need to do something to protect the whole game-day experience in the stands and in the parking lot,” club president Jim Bell said Monday.

“We need our fans coming back. And if those incidents continue to arise, it implies that we’re not really taking it seriously. So, this last season, we took everything into account and the number of incidents and the types of incidents and, to be honest, a number of them are alcohol-related. That’s why we felt the need to do something.”

So have a number of fans who had been reluctant to bring their kids into such an environment.

“I guess 90-95% (of fans) will see this as favourable,” Bell said. “Those who have been wanting to bring their eight- or 10-year-olds to the game and maybe feel that some changes need to be made before they did that, and we want them here. Those eight-, 10-, 12-year-olds are the grassroots kids that you rely on to become fans for the rest of their lives.”

The Bombers currently employ 18-20 cops per game and adding more will cost the club some extra cash.

“That’s relatively minor in the whole scheme of things,” Bell said. “If it costs us a few extra dollars to add a couple of police officers per game, we’re prepared to put that into our stadium management budget.”

The cops endorsed the move.

“Probably one of the worst incidents was when we had our officers being assaulted and things being thrown at them,” said Ken Taplin, a staff sergeant in charge of those working home games.

“Of course, they were isolated incidents but nonetheless, disturbing.

“When you have that many people and a limited number of officers, it can be tenuous on how to deal with the issue … We certainly support their initiative and hope to make this a non-event for us, which means everyone is out here enjoying the game and going home with a positive experience.”

Some exceptions, such as medical emergencies, will be made to the “no-entry” policy, Bell said.

The Bombers have also added new concessions and members of the Bomber alumni will greet fans at the gates as part of the club’s 80th birthday celebrations.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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