New Bombers’ stadium worth all the delays

When the CFL season kicks off tomorrow night, all eyes will be on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Mind you, part of that will be to see how badly things might pan out against the Montreal Alouettes after the Blue Bombers were hammered 52-0 by the Hamilton Tiger Cats in their final pre-season game last Thursday.
But the majority of the TV audience will be looking in to catch a glimpse of the new Investors Group Field.
After being delayed by a year, many have wondered aloud if the new stadium is worth the wait—and how it stacks up to the now demolished Canad Inns Stadium.
While I personally am waiting for the oddly-named Ottawa RedBlacks to make their CFL debut next season before I attend a live game, Dan Falloon, my predecessor here at the Fort Frances Times, got a first-hand look at the new 33,422 seat stadium two weeks ago during a pre-season contest against the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts.
“After going to Canad Inns for so many years, this new stadium is absolutely beautiful and it’s worth the wait,” Falloon said.
“There’s very few bad seats in the house,” he noted. “And from where we were sitting near the top of the stadium in the second deck, it was an excellent view.”
One of the things Falloon feels visitors to the new stadium will notice right away is how much lower Investors Group Field is compared to Canad Inns Stadium.
“It’s a sunken bowl about five-10 feet underground, so you walk up from the concourse and see that the seats and the field are quite low,” he recounted.
“Also, the seats are a lot more comfortable, and they provide a lot more leg room and they are a little wider compared to what it’s like at the MTS Centre for Jets games,” Falloon added.
One of the biggest issues that came out from that pre-season game was the traffic nightmare that many fans, including Falloon, had to deal with as everyone tried to make their way to the new stadium on the grounds of the University of Manitoba campus.
“A friend and I left from the central part of Winnipeg on a Bombers’ shuttle around 6:20 p.m. for a 7 p.m. kick-off, and we were about a kilometre away from the stadium at 6:35, so we were looking golden,” he recalled.
“But as the route down the Pembina Highway turned onto University Crescent, the traffic to the stadium just started to bottleneck and everyone was backed up.
“At that point, my friend and I hopped out of our seats and walked to the stadium, and we ended up getting to our seats with about 12 minutes left in the first quarter.
Falloon was lucky, however, as other Bombers’ fans were unable to make to Investors Group Field until much later in the game.
“One of my relatives was planning to take a bus from one of the close suburbs, and there were 500 people there waiting at the stop,” he noted.
“Well, Winnipeg Transit had only allotted for two buses, so a lot of the people that were there didn’t end up making it to the stadium until later in the second quarter,” he added.
Although the issues regarding traffic at Investors Group Field were said to be not as much of a problem during last Saturday’s sold-out Taylor Swift concert, there still are questions as to whether things will go according to plan tomorrow night for the Bombers’ home-opener.
“I hope things work out smoothly as they have a sense now with how things are going to go,” Falloon said.
“Hopefully, we see some people car pool, as there are about 5,000 parking spots in the immediate area, or they will use the bike valet as they have room for 1,000 bikes.
“But I think with the issues that happened with public transit in the pre-season game, you might see more people use their cars to get their on their own, which might lead to more traffic.
“We shall see how the Blue Bombers and the city respond to that,” he added.
Despite those potential traffic problems, Falloon advises anyone who would like to see the new stadium to come out and visit Investors Group Field during its inaugural season.
“Hopefully, they are a fan of one of the other seven CFL teams that are going to be playing here because the Bombers aren’t going to be great this year,” he laughed.