Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Bombers say lessons learned
Concert experience let club work out the kinks: VP
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers say the worst of the transportation headaches involving Investors Group Field are now behind us.
Club vice-president Jim Bell told a news conference Monday morning traffic flowed much more smoothly in and out of the Taylor Swift concert on Saturday than it did during a pre-season Bombers game earlier in the month.
"I would say we've learned a tremendous amount in the course of a couple of weeks," Bell told reporters. "And now it's about improvement. I think we have encountered the worst and we've learned a lot."
Bell said an altered transportation plan that was put in place for Saturday's concert -- which included more buses, more police and earlier fan access -- mostly worked as intended.
Bell said while there continued to be "hot spots" -- there were complaints, for instance, of long delays after the concert for motorists who'd parked in a university parkade -- the general consensus seemed to be traffic overall moved much better than it did for the Bombers' pre-season game on June 12.
Bell said the club and city officials were continuing to do their post-mortem on the concert Monday and would announce more transportation plan changes today and Wednesday in the lead-up to this Thursday's Bombers regular-season opener against the Montreal Alouettes.
Those changes will include a tripling of the number of buses that will operate out of eight park-and-ride stations on Thursday.
Winnipeg Transit's Dave Wardrop told reporters there will be 196 buses operating in and out of the stadium on Thursday -- 116 school buses and 80 transit buses, more than triple the 61 buses that were dedicated to the last Bombers game.
Wardrop said 9,800 concertgoers took the bus home from the Taylor Swift show, almost one-third of the 33,000 spectators in attendance.
Wardrop said this Thursday's complement of buses will be able to carry in excess of 11,000 Bombers fans to and from the game, one-third of what the Bombers will likely announce today will be a sold-out crowd of 33,500.
Wardrop cautioned, however, there will continue to be growing pains with the transportation plan in and out of the stadium, noting the demographics and logistics of hosting a football game on a weekday night pose very different challenges than a pop concert on a weekend.
"We've made some substantive improvements and expect to continue to do so," said Wardrop, "but I think what occurs Thursday is going to be a different type of event than Saturday. And so we're going to continue building and learning from that."
Bell also stressed Bombers fans are going to have to accept a certain amount of traffic congestion is always going to be an issue at any professional football game. Bell noted even at the much more centrally located Canad Inns Stadium, it still took on average about 40 minutes to clear the parking lot after games.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 25, 2013 B1
Updated on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 6:17 AM CDT: replaces photo, adds video, adds sidebar
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