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No mad dash for concessions

Catch the action while waiting for snacks

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Remember at the old Canad Inns Stadium when you'd sprint to get a burger or a beer beneath the grandstand and arrive back completely out of breath only to realize you'd just missed the biggest play of the game?

Well, football fans, that sort of thing never has to happen at Investors Group Field.

That's because the concessions in the main concourse face the field. So, in effect, you could stand in line backwards and watch the game until it was your turn to order.

"There really is no comparison (to Canad Inns Stadium)," said Gerry Ellis, general manager of Ovations Food Services, which runs the food services at the Bombers' new home.

"The wants and needs of people coming to a football game in 2013 are completely different (to 1953 when the old stadium was built). They want comfort, ease of service, good products, variety, fresh and healthy choices and they want all of that in a great atmosphere," he said.

The No. 1 complaint in the old stadium was not being able to see the field when they lined up for food, he said.

"We could have 20,000 people in the main concourse and you could see exactly what's going on (on the field). We won't have that crazy rush at halftime. People can come at their leisure. It's going to be way more relaxed," he said.

The only time when you might miss a play or two is in the upper deck, where the concessions are beneath the stands. But because there are no restrictions on where fans can go once they enter the stadium, upper-deck ticket holders can come down to the main concourse.

Most of the concessions are owned by the football team but there are a few, such as Shawarma Khan In A Snap, Salisbury House, Burrito Splendido and Pizza Hotline, that have been brought in.

Ellis said it only makes sense to have an operator like Burrito Splendido serve Mexican food, because it would be much better received by fans than if the Bombers were making their own chimichangas.

There will, of course, be a Rum Hut, too. But instead of the 100-square-foot shack in the old stadium, the new one will be more than 2,000 square feet at a fixed concession area at the stadium's north end. While the exterior is really a gigantic sticker, which was being applied on Tuesday afternoon, Ellis is hoping people won't miss an actual thatched roof if they're getting much faster service.

Speaking of which, Ellis said if you're standing in line to get a burger, hotdog or chicken nuggets, the turnaround time per customer should be about 45 seconds.

Former Bomber centre Obby Khan is preparing to open a Shawarma Khan "In A Snap" location, which will have a smaller menu than his Exchange District Shawarma Khan store.

"I think people have had hotdogs and fries for too long at a game. Now they can eat something fun, healthy, local, fresh and something with a bit of kick in it," he said.

The In A Snap idea is in response to the express locations of other restaurants. Not only does it imply quick service, but as a centre, Khan snapped the ball to the quarterback for many years.

"It's very creative, I thought of it myself," he said with a laugh. "It's almost like it was destined for me to open Shawarma Khan In A Snap when I started playing centre," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2013 A5

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Updated on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 6:29 AM CDT: replaces photo, adds video

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