An inside look at how the arrival of the Grey Cup has changed Winnipeg at what it means to the city. (image: Johany Jutras)
By: Justin Rowan
The last time the Grey Cup was hosted by Winnipeg was back in 2006. Back at the now demolished Canad Inns stadium featuring a clash between the B.C. Lions and Montreal Allouettes. Nearly a decade later the city and league have grown tremendously and now the River City is ready to show Canada just how fun it can be, regardless of the weather.
(Pictured Below: Lions players hoist a broken GreyCup after beating the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006 in Winnipeg. The Lions beat the Alouettes 25-14.)
Last time the Cup was in Winnipeg, the festival featured the majority of events at the Winnipeg Convention Centre and special events at the newly constructed MTS Centre. Since that time Winnipeg received it’s NHL team back and the Convention Centre has seen some major upgrades, in the form of renovations and a large expansion.
This year’s festivities will take place all over downtown, including at the newly renovated RBC Convention Centre. It’ll feature all kinds of concerts and fan events for people to show just how much they love our game. CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST OF EVENTS
The site of the Grey Cup will be very different than the last time Winnipeg hosted. The stadium has been moved to the University of Manitoba grounds. The three year old Investors Group Field is a beautiful venue with a sunken field, many more amenities and plenty of great food. With the stadium on campus grounds, it provides and easy staging area for tailgating and fans to get in the zone before they descend upon the stadium.
(image: Johany Jutras)
In my opinion, the game will be a return to what I know playoff football to be in the Canadian Football League. Indoor playoff games just don’t feel… Canadian. It needs to be played outdoors and against the elements, and if the recent weather is any indication, mother nature is also gearing up to provide the teams with a rather frigid environment. What was a mild beginning to November was abruptly brought to a halt when snowstorms hit Winnipeg last week. Hopefully the game won’t be played in the middle of a blizzard, but it wouldn’t feel right if there wasn’t some snow on the ground.
It’s appropriate that a Grey Cup that will not only show off the growth of the city but also show off the growth of the league, considering that it will feature the recently added Ottawa REDBLACKS. In a league where anything can happen, Ottawa quickly turned itself around from a lackluster inaugural year and now appears to be a legitimate contender to bring home the holy grail of Canadian Football. While fans in Winnipeg obviously would have hoped to see their hometown Blue Bombers in the game, the sight of Ottawa should fill them and fans of other seven teams not in this game with hope and an understanding that things can change quickly in this league. You’re never too far out of it.
Meanwhile, for fans of the Edmonton Eskimos, their transformation process has taken a bit longer. It has been a decade since their last appearance in the Grey Cup, a lengthy drought for one of the league’s most storied franchises. But they’re back!
This Grey Cup is an opportunity for a new generation of fans in Winnipeg to experience what it’s like to host the big event and experience the atmosphere surrounding it. New fans, new stadium, a new team and one looking to rediscover a glory that’s proven to be elusive for a long time. The teams are set, the snow is on a ground and on Sunday history will be made.
For a full list of Grey Cup Festivities in Winnipeg, visit the festival website HERE.
Still some tickets left for the big game, CLICK HERE to see if there are any left!