There will be "more cowbell" at Winnipeg Blue Bombers games this season after all.
Within hours of the Free Press hitting the streets this morning with a story about the Bombers banning cowbells at their games this coming season, the club reversed itself and announced they will allow the bells after all.
"You can call it backpedalling if you like," Bombers vice-president Jim Bell told a news conference Monday afternoon. "I choose to call it proactive on behalf of the club. We took our fans' concerns into consideration and we deemed it important enough that we met first thing this morning so that we could come up with something that would be deemed fair in the eyes of our fans, but more importantly in accordance with safety."
Bell stressed that only "store-bought" cowbells will be allowed into the stadium, and not any homemade devices like the ones the Bombers have seen on game days in the past.
"Some people get creative," said Bell, "they’ll make them out of a tin can and rocks, that type of thing. Those will definitely, definitely not be allowed into the stadium facility."
Bell’s remarks came after the club issued a press release earlier in the day on an issue Bombers media spokesman Darren Cameron jokingly referred to on his Twitter account as ‘Cowbellgate.'
"After listening to our fans, we would like to inform everyone that over the counter purchased cowbells will be permitted at home games this season, but homemade noisemakers such as empty paint cans with rocks inside or any other device that may be deemed unsafe by our security staff will not be permitted," the release read. "It was never our intention to diminish the fan experience and we do encourage our fans to bring thunder sticks, clappers and plastic horns powered by human voice, however all of which will be at sole discretion of the football club."
It’s the second time in seven months a sports organization has had to backtrack over cowbells. Last winter, Saskatchewan fans at the Canada Cup in Cranbrook were informed the Canadian Curling Association was banning cowbells from their events. A furor erupted the and a CCA official quickly issued a statement, saying cowbells were still welcome and the incident was a misunderstanding.
Bombers cornerback Jovon Johnson said following practice Monday that he understood the frustration of fans who were angry that a staple of the prairies like a cowbell was no longer going to be allowed at the stadium.
"I’m pretty sure the fans are pretty pissed about that. For them it’s a way to show their appreciation to us on the field. The louder they are in the stands, the more of an advantage they give us," Johnson said.