The view from the stands — and beyond

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:45 PM ET

He has seen football played in the stadium from all views.

Paul Normandeau started as a loyal Blue Bombers fan, became a high school football coach for Kelvin Clippers, then the Winnipeg Rifles mentor and as the current Winnipeg High School Football League commissioner.

"It goes back a long way, watching (quarterback) Kenny Ploen play there, (running back) Dave Raimey, (wide receiver) Ken Neilsen and the great Bomber teams of the past," Normandeau said of the Bombers' Golden Era when they won four Grey Cup titles in five years. "Watching (quarterback) Dieter Brock and Tom Clements when he was the quarterback for the Bombers (when they won the 1984 Grey Cup).

"And, of course, as a coach winning the high school championship there and then coaching the Winnipeg Rifles there. Not only playing but practising on that turf. I have some very fond memories of some great football played there, even this past year with the Winnipeg High School Football League watching future stars in the CIS and hopefully, CFL."

But he is looking forward to the new stadium being built on the University of Manitoba campus.

"It will certainly be easier getting to the press box than climbing all those stairs," Normandeau said. "But there's a lot of history in Canad Inns Stadium, formerly Winnipeg Stadium, and there's something to be said for history. But I guess it is time to move on and I'm looking forward to getting into the new facility."

Wayne Manishen, is a local physician and former Bomber season ticket holder.

"I've got memories going back to the late sixties, early seventies," he said while shopping at the Bomber Store. "I was at a game in '72 when the Bombers lost the playoffs. I enjoyed the old stadium. I actually like the location, it's easy to get to, and I hope that things work out in the new stadium. But I'm a fan nonetheless."

Nichole Russell hasn't been a fan that long, but she has still enjoyed the games she has attended at the crumbling old facility.

"I've gone to 15-20 games and I've been a fan since I was born," said the server at Terrace 55. "My dad was probably the biggest fan, so I kind of followed along with him.

"All the times I came here, I definitely loved watching the S section go crazy, the beer cup snake, that kind of stuff and all the touchdowns, all the celebrations "¦ It's been a good part of Winnipeg history, but I'm excited for the new stadium. It's closer to my house so, I can get there faster and easier now."

Wayne Hillsden has been a Flight Crew member for years.

"I put up the inflatable helmet at every home game," said Hillsden, who has fond memories of a number of activities at the stadium. "Certainly, the 2006 Grey Cup "¦ One memory just a little while ago is that they had a wedding out on the field. We had to set up this helmet for this wedding in the afternoon, so it was a lot of fun."

Then there were the concerts.

"I have good memories also from the outdoor concerts that I was able to work -- the Eagles, Bon Jovi shows, this past spring doing the U2 concert, which was huge out here," he said.


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