Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombers handing off opening-day ball to fans

New CFL season to kick off with community relay run

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Jerry Maslowsky, the Bombers' vice-president of marketing and brand development, will have to wait until June to get the ball from Doug Brown.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Jerry Maslowsky, the Bombers' vice-president of marketing and brand development, will have to wait until June to get the ball from Doug Brown. Photo Store

It will be the football version of the Olympic torch run and you can be a part of it.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced a relay run will be held from June 22 to 27 in nine Manitoba communities with the official CFL football that will be used in the first league game played at Investors Group Field.

Communities visited will include Portage la Prairie on June 22, Brandon on June 23, Morden, Winkler and Altona on June 24, Steinbach on June 25, Gimli and Selkirk on June 26 and Winnipeg on June 27.

Former Bomber Doug Brown, the Kickoff Run ambassador, said it will be a proud moment for Bombers past and present to see a ball touched by many fans be used in the official kickoff June 27 when the team hosts the Montreal Alouettes to begin the 2013 CFL season. The date will serve as the official grand opening of the new stadium at the University of Manitoba.

"There's so many fans across Manitoba that have an investment in this team, that care about the fortunes of the Blue Bombers, that this is a brilliant way to incorporate so many different communities into the opening ceremonies of the new stadium," Brown said.

Three-hundred runners will be selected via a contest. Entry details will be announced beginning May 21 in the Winnipeg Free Press and fans can enter online at www.winnipegfreepress.com.

A special group of 20 runners will be chosen to participate in the opening ceremonies. The ball will be run to centre field by a surprise guest, rumoured to be CFL hall-of-fame receiver Milt Stegall, who played 14 seasons for the Bombers.

"What better way than to recognized how wide-spread Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans are by having so many of them touch this football and run it for a portion through their communities," Brown said. "It's very symbolic of that kind of collaborative effort that it takes to have a successful football team and that everybody does have a stake in a community-owned football club. That's really the message the Kickoff Run for 2013 sends."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2013 A6

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