Thousands poured into Winnipeg's new stadium for a massive evangelical church service Sunday.
The fourth annual One Heart Celebration gave churchgoers their first look inside the $200-million state-of-the-art Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba.
With a lineup of speakers ranging from dignitaries such as Mayor Sam Katz and Bombers legend Milt Stegall, the crowds crossed the lines from the religiously devoted to Bombers faithful. Various pastors also spoke.
For Rick Koss, the church moderator for the McIvor Avenue Mennonite Brethren Church, the idea of the new football stadium opening for a religious service as its first public event satisfied something profound in him.
"We think it’s a really great opportunity that the first event to open the stadium is a celebration of God. That’s awesome," Koss said.
One of those in attendance was Winnipeg superfan Dancin’ Gabe. And what did Gabe say about the Bombers’ new digs?
"It’s awesome. It’s the best outdoor facility in Canada, in North America, in the world," Gabe declared.
With more than 90 congregations in attendance, mostly from Winnipeg but also from beyond the city limits, organizers estimated the crowd could top out at 25,000.
By 1 p.m., most of the seats on the lower banks were a brightly coloured mix of Bombers blue and gold and every other colour under the rainbow.
The event ran from noon to 2:30 p.m. People were still steaming through the stadium gates at the Investors Group Field at 1 p.m.