The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will not be opening the 2012 season in their new stadium, the football club admitted Wednesday.
During a news conference at the site of the future Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba, Blue Bomber officials said the July 26 date for the team’s home opener against Edmonton will be played at Canad Inns Stadium. That leaves the Bombers’ first home game in their new digs scheduled for September 21, but the team is hoping to be moved in by the Banjo Bowl on September 9.
Construction delays and other setbacks have delayed the $190 million project and not allowed work to progress as planned. The Bombers were hopeful that playing the first handful of games this season on the road would allow for sufficient time to finish construction on the south end stadium.
“Over the course of the past couple of months, we have been continuously monitoring, very closely, the construction progress of our new home,” said Bombers’ president and CEO Garth Buchko. “Our project managers gave us a crucial date of May 1st in which we would know exactly where we stood, and it became apparent that unfortunately we would not be able to hit our target for this date. As a result, we will play our first five regular season home games at Canad Inns Stadium.”
A media report two weeks ago by Global Winnipeg suggested the team wouldn’t play at Investors Group Field until mid-September. At the time, team officials were tight-lipped on the project’s progress — until today.
“This decision was not an easy one for our organization,” Buchko added. “We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our loyal fans and sponsors, that much like us are waiting anxiously to get into this facility, and have offered many words of encouragement and patience as this beautiful facility constructs.”
Buchko said management won’t know the situation of the stadium’s state until mid-summer.
Fans with season tickets who purchased seats at Investors Group Field will regain their seat from 2011 at Canad Inns Stadium up to the number of seats that were renewed in 2012 and will pay 2011 prices for those games. All season ticket holders will have their account credited the difference in prices.
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming