I like football stadiums; I enjoy areas for athletic competition. I have been fortunate to have played in many at the NCAA level, quite a few at the NFL level, and all of them at the CFL level. Each and every one is different no matter the sport as each one brings a unique energy level.
Some are beautiful: the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for example. Some are dangerous: the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia comes to mind.
I'm not sure who designed Investors Group Field, the new home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but I sure get the vibe they did it right. With all due respect to those who had a fondness for Canad Inns Stadium, it was terrible. The upgrade is no different than going from the old Exhibition Stadium to the new – well, not so new anymore – Rogers Centre; there is no comparison.
Will it assist the Bombers in winning games? Tough to say; the scientific data on that is abstract at best, but it sure can't hurt. The building will be a great addition to athletics, both professional and college, and something people in Manitoba should be proud of … especially if it keeps every quarterback on the Bombers roster healthy! It's a lot to ask I know, but here's hoping.
If Buck Pierce stays upright, Winnipeg will be as good as any team; if he doesn't, they will have tough moments to overcome.
Last year's team never got into a grove. On offence they finished eighth in points, net offence, and passing yards, and seventh in second down conversion rate and red zone offence. They punted the ball more than anyone else and with a defence that regressed from a year ago, it equaled a 6-12 effort.
As much as key players make a defence, in Winnipeg coaches Tim Burke, Gary Crowton, Casey Creehan, and Craig Dickenson are a foundation that have to make the right decisions, evaluations, and assessments. They all have CFL experience and education.
If the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the “best” fans in the CFL in terms of intensity and loyalty, may I suggest that Winnipeg fans are No. 2. With the new and true home field advantage called Investors Group Field, this team has a new feel of professional football that I did not see previously.
Henoc Muamba at MLB is a star; the running back combination of Chad Simpson and Chris Garrett is a great problem; Jonathan Hefney and Alex Suber can regain their spectacular reputation if they're intensely focused and driven; and a lighter faster Buck Pierce can lead and produce if protected and smart.
It has been over 20 years since Winnipeg has won the Grey Cup, but could you imagine if they got there and did it this year? In Regina, Saskatchewan? Bombers fans would travel there, and only if the Roughriders were in the Grey Cup too would Rider fans stay. In an eight-team league, never discount a possibility.