On Friday afternoon the Winnipeg Blue Bombers held their fourth press conference of the four-day work week to announce they’re making money. Lots and lots of money.
Their timing couldn’t be better.
The Blue and Gold announced they have sold a record number of season tickets — 22,050 as of 9 a.m. on Friday, to be exact — and still have a month to go. They set a record last year when 21,155 were scooped up by fans.
“This has been a great week for the football club,” president and CEO Garth Buchko said Friday. “There’s been so many great things going on right now, and this just sort of caps it all off.”
Only previous season ticket holders or the 2,300 who paid $50 to get on a waiting list have been able to purchase season tickets thus far. General season ticket sales begin on Monday at 3 p.m., with mostly only corner and end zone seats remaining. Single game tickets for the first five games of the season, to be played at Canad Inns Stadium, go on sale Friday, June 8.
There will be a maximum number of season tickets sold, but the team doesn’t want to announce that figure yet. The fact its two stadiums have different capacities (29,533 at Canad Inns and 33,422 at Investors) is a reason why, but there will be thousands, not hundreds, of single-game seats up for grabs.
The Bombers were supposed to move into Investors Group Field at the start of this season, which no doubt has helped ticket sales, but construction delays have pushed back the opening date to Sept. 9, the Banjo Bowl, at the earliest. That hiccup, plus the $85 million loan the Bombers have to repay to the provincial government, mean the Bombers are watching every penny these days. Setting a season ticket record adds to the kitty.
On Tuesday the club announced it is selling more Bomber-themed licence plates. On Wednesday it revealed it has already set a sponsorship revenue record. On Friday morning it trotted out the first $100,000 winner of its scratch lottery ticket initiative.
“It helps a lot,” Buchko said. “This would have been a challenging year based on running two stadiums, based on the cost overruns that we’re absorbing for the new stadium — the couple million dollars for the ribbon board and the video board — so everything we can do on the revenue side helps offset the expense side of the equation. Everything helps.”
Buchko said the club lost only a “handful” of season ticket holders when it announced Investors Group Field wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season.
“It speaks to the loyalty of the fans, for sure,” Buchko said, “but it also speaks to the importance of what we’re doing, which is ultimately moving into Canada’s number one sports and entertainment facility.”
Bomber season ticket holders will have first dibs on their seat for concerts at the new stadium.
MEANWHILE, ON THE FIELD: The Bombers signed third-round draft pick Johnny Aprile, a receiver/safety, and import receiver Doug Pierce on Friday.
Pierce is a 6-foot-5 pass catcher who starred at Friends University, an NAIA school in Kansas. Aprile had 31 catches for 594 yards and four touchdowns last season at Queen’s and was a superb kick returner, but the Bombers are going to put him at safety.