WINNIPEG - It’s called “doing the double” and it’s something that hasn’t happened around these parts for quite some time.
In fact, it has been 20 years and three days since the opportunity last arose.
The last time it was possible for fans in Winnipeg to “do the double” was Oct. 19, 1991.
On that day, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers played the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the afternoon at Winnipeg Stadium and the Winnipeg Jets took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the evening at the Winnipeg Arena.
Back then it was easy.
Even if there wasn’t much time between the two games, fans could easily stumble across Maroons Road, stop at at a lounge along the way for a couple of pops, and make it in time for the Jets game.
Today, it won’t be quite so simple for fans to take in both the Blue Bombers game against the Montreal Alouettes at 2 p.m., and the Jets game against the Carolina Hurricanes at 6 p.m. At least, it will take a little longer to get to the MTS Centre in traffic after the Bombers first-place showdown with the Alouettes, but you can be sure many fans will make the effort.
Many will see it for what it is — a truly rare occasion, where the city’s two most popular teams are in action back-to-back.
And unlike in 1991, fans will appreciate the opportunity and take advantage of it.
Both these games are complete sellouts. More than 45,000 tickets have been sold for the two games.
In ’91 there were 27,127 fans at the Bombers game and only 11,301 at the Jets game.
Times have truly changed.
While we always thought of ourselves as living in a rabid sports town, the attendance numbers in the past rarely supported that notion.
Today, the numbers back up the sports hysteria.
Fans are putting their money where their mouths are and using their mouths and vocal chords to make a difference.
Winnipeg sports teams have never experienced this kind of support before.
The Bombers have been sold out for six consecutive games. The Jets have sold out every exhibition and home game and likely will continue to do so all season despite a rough start on the ice.
This despite the fact all of the Bombers and Jets games are available on TV, which was not the case 20 years ago.
The noise in both Winnipeg sports venues rivals any building in the teams’ respective leagues and, make no mistake, it means a lot to the home side’s fortunes.
The Jets and Bombers have already played at the same time at home once this year, an exhibition contest for the Jets, which coincided with the last time the Alouettes were in town a few weeks back.
Both teams lost that night.
They both lost on the road last Saturday night as well, the Jets in Phoenix and the Bombers in Edmonton.
Today would be a good time to turn that trend around.
The Bombers can get a hold on first place and the reeling Jets can earn valuable points against a division rival, while starting the process of turning around a 1-4-1 start.
Maybe there’s some hope in the scores from the last “double” on Oct. 19, 1991.
The Bombers clobbered the Tiger-Cats 68-14, while the Jets got goals from Danton Cole, Teppo Numminen, Russ Romaniuk and Dean Kennedy as they beat the Leafs 4-2.
A pair of wins today, would make this rare occasion even more memorable.