Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Football fans could take Red to see Blue

Riverboat owner says Bombers proposed idea

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The Paddlewheel Queen drifts along the river.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

The Paddlewheel Queen drifts along the river. Photo Store

What if you could roll along the river instead of driving a car to Blue Bombers games?

Under plans being floated with two riverboat operators, the Paddlewheel and the M.S. River Rouge, Bomber fans would go by boat to Investors Group Field later this summer.

"We feel it's a pretty good way of getting to Bombers games... it's a relaxing cruise and you don't have to fight traffic like you do now," said Paddlewheel Capt. Steve Hawchuk.

Hawchuk said he's still testing the waters for the concept, but he said it makes a lot of sense with the location of Investors Group Field on the University of Manitoba campus, which is on the Red River.

River Rouge operator Curtis Grimolfson could not be reached for comment.

In the next couple of weeks, plans should be firmed up on how the Paddlewheel and the M.S. River Rouge would offer the service, Hawchuk said.

The idea began after the first headlines about traffic snarls to the stadium and grew with every report of parking problems, Hawchuk said.

Then, about a month ago, the Paddlewheel captain said he took a call from the Blue Bombers club asking him to consider pressing his boat into the service of their fans.

Since then, university officials have been invited to jump aboard and a meeting next week with U of M decision-makers will probably result in some firm plans, including ticket costs for the river rides, Hawchuk said.

For docking, there's a gentle riverbank incline where the Paddlewheel would drop a ramp about half a kilometre away from the stadium, Hawchuk said. The walk is about 10 minutes, he said.

"I know a lot of people walk farther than that to get to their cars," Hawchuk said.

"We feel it's a pretty good way of getting to the Bombers games. We'd have a nice dinner on the way and land about an hour before the game. After the game, we'd party on the boat on the way back. It's makes a lot of sense."

The riverboat ride from the Paddlewheel's home dock at the foot of the Redwood Bridge to the university would take about two hours each way.

"Once you get back to the dock you'd get in your car and go home. There would be no traffic. No congestion."

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 A5

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