Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Bombers ride business momentum into training camp

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If the Winnipeg Blue Bombers team that opens training camp next weekend at Canad Inns Stadium is anywhere near as hot on the field as they’ve been off of it lately, fans are going to be in for a very exciting CFL season in 2012.

Just two days after the Bombers announced that they have generated franchise record numbers in corporate sponsorships this year, Bombers CEO Garth Buchko announced the team has also now set a new club record for season ticket sales.

As a lineup of people buying their season tickets snaked out the door of the Bombers offices Friday afternoon, Buchko held a hastily called news conference nearby to announce the club has sold 22,050 season tickets already this year.

That’s almost a thousand more tickets than the old season-ticket record of 21,155, which was set just last year. And the number is only going to climb in the coming weeks, with season ticket sales finally going on sale to the general public this Monday afternoon and training camp set to begin a week Sunday.

"I’m thrilled," said Buchko. "Our fans have been spectacular and I’d like to thank them for their support...The lineup that you see here today starts at 7 o’clock in the morning. It’s been going like that all week."

Buchko said the club has had only a handful of cancellations since announcing that at least five games -- a preseason contest and four regular season games -- will be played at old Canad Inns Stadium this season before the club finally moves into their shiny new stadium going up on the grounds of University of Manitoba in September.

"We’ve had some (cancellations), but not many," said Buchko. "It speaks to the loyalty of the fans for sure. But it also speaks to the importance of what we’re doing, which is ultimately moving into Canada’s number one sports and entertainment facility."

Buchko said the record sales -- both in tickets and sponsorships -- will help pay off some of the additional expenses the club has had to incur this year because of the construction delays in the new stadium and some extras the Bombers decided to add to the new facility -- a video ribbon board, for instance -- that they are paying for on their own.

"It helps a lot. This would have been a challenging year based on running two stadiums, based on the cost over-runs that we’re absorbing..." Buchko said. "Everything helps."

The ticket sales have boomed despite the fact that since the announcement that this season will be split between two stadiums, the club has been unable to conduct season ticket sales online -- there simply isn’t an online system that can accommodate one season ticket sale in two stadiums -- and has had to have staff manually handle each order by phone or in person.

Buchko confirmed earlier statements that the club will cap its season ticket sales this year so that there are always single game tickets available to the public, but he declined to specify a number other than to say it will be "in the thousands."

To this point, the only people who have been able to purchase season tickets for this season have been previous season ticket holders and fans who put down a $50 deposit to be on a waiting list. Starting Monday, anyone will be able to purchase a season ticket, while single game tickets for the first five games, including the preseason contest against Hamilton on June 20, will go on sale June 8.

FIELD NOTES -- Four weeks into their first ever scratch and win lottery, Buchko announced the club has already paid out over 11,000 winning tickets and about $200,000 in cash, including one of two $100,000 prizes up for grabs in the lottery. There’s still over 220,000 prizes to be won, worth a total of $1.8 million...The Bombers also announced Friday that they have signed two new receivers. Johnny Aprile was a third-round draft pick for the club out of Queen’s, while Doug Pierce had 91 receptions for 1,693 yards and 20 touchdowns over two seasons at Friends University in Wichita.

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