This time they mean it!
After construction delays to Investors Group Field on the University of Manitoba campus saw the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play an additional season at Canad Inns Stadium, the Bombers played what we hope will be their last game at the old barn on Saturday, Nov. 2, against the Montreal Alouettes.
The game was of little importance to either team, as final standings were already decided. It translated to the field, where a snoozer of a game eventually saw the Bombers prevail by a score of 19-11. Most of the starters for both teams were left watching from the sidelines, as nobody wants to get hurt in a game with no bearing. [ML1]
The most significant thing about this game was the fact that it will be the last CFL game ever played at Canad Inns Stadium. If the script sounds familiar, it’s because you heard it last year when the Bombers played in the Eastern Division Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Nov. 20, where a –22 wind chill greeted a sold out house rooting the Winnipeg team on to a victory and a chance at the Grey Cup. You could not ask for a better ending, as local hero Doug Brown played his last game in front of home fans, and the final play was a Blue Bomber touchdown. It was almost poetic.
One lost title game and a season of disappointment later, the Bombers once again managed to close out the stadium with a victory, with the final play being a quarterback sack by Bomber defensive end Kenny Mainor. Still a memorable game, but it will never be as good.
Looking forward to next season there are a lot of questions in Bomberville, as the organization has faced scrutiny from top to bottom after failing to make the playoffs. Players and staff remain optimistic they can turn this ship around and be a competitive team next year, but questions endure: Can general manager Joe Mack return this team to championship form? If Buck Pierce has lost the faith of the most loyal of fans, who will be the starting quarterback for the club next year?
Whether or not the Bombers look for help elsewhere at the QB position will be a storyline of interest this off-season, as when you play in the Canadian Football League your team is only as good as your quarterback. The Bombers currently have five quarterbacks on their roster, with Pierce, Joey Elliott, Alex Brink, Justin Goltz, and R.J. Archer all looking to keep their jobs next spring when the team moves to the new stadium.
Investors Group Field is nearing completion, and the 33,422-seat stadium continues to look more magnificent as the days go by. Gone will be the trough and steel benches. Replacing them will be a state-of-the-art stadium, where fans and players alike look to make many happy memories for years to come.
Quarterback Alex Brink was gushing after the game about playing in the new stadium next year.
“It can’t be described how much we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be so special to have that facility, hands down the nicest facility in Canada to play football in. The locker room and facilities aspect is going to be great for the players and we can’t wait to get in there.”
With the Bombers and the Ticats on the outside looking in, the CFL playoffs will kick off on Remembrance Day. The Toronto Argonauts host the Edmonton Eskimos at 12:00 p.m., while the Calgary Stampeders host the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 3:30 p.m..