It’s official: Blue Bombers to host 2025 Grey Cup Players excited about chance to play for championship in front of hometown fans
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The CFL’s marquee event and biggest party is making its way to Winnipeg, with the city officially named hosts of the 2025 Grey Cup.
In a joint press conference between the CFL and the Blue Bombers inside the Pinnacle Room at IG Field Tuesday, attended by Premier Heather Stefanson and Mayor Scott Gillingham, league commissioner Randy Ambrosie confirmed what had become the city’s worst-kept secret.
“As a proud Winnipegger, I’m absolutely elated to announce the return of the Grey Cup to my hometown,” Ambrosie said. “Hosting the Grey Cup is a tremendous honour, and I was blown away by the Blue Bombers’ plans to engage the community and put on an unforgettable celebration of our great game. I can’t wait to see it all unfold.”
The Bombers had bid and failed to secure the championship game in 2024, which was awarded to the B.C. Lions. Bombers president and CEO Wade Miller said shortly after his bid was denied that he was hopeful to get the game in 2025 and had already begun conversations with the league to fulfill that goal.
To help with Winnipeg’s bid, the provincial government has pledged $5.5 million to help support the game and the weeklong festivities preceding it. The City has also committed financially, to the tune of $950,000, plus an additional $550,000 worth of services.
It will be the fifth time the Grey Cup is played in Winnipeg and the first time since 2015, when Edmonton defeated Ottawa 26-20. It’s also the first time the Bombers have been awarded the game since a formal bidding process was put into place in 2018 — a format that includes sharing parts of the profit with the rest of the league rather than the host team keeping it all.
Winnipeg hosted the 1991, 1998 and 2006 Grey Cup games at Canad Inns Stadium (formerly Winnipeg Stadium), which was torn down in 2013. The Bombers have never played in a Grey Cup game, let alone won one, on home turf. Their 12 championships rank third among CFL teams, behind Toronto (18) and Edmonton (14).
Few details regarding the event were released publicly, but the Free Press was able to confirm some additional information.
“As a proud Winnipegger, I’m absolutely elated to announce the return of the Grey Cup to my hometown”–CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie
The Bombers will introduce a new event called Taste of the Blue Bombers, which will highlight local restaurants and their menus over Grey Cup week. To build momentum for the idea, with the hope B.C. might want to test it out in 2024, it will be begin as an one-night event during this year’s Bombers training camp.
As for tickets to the game, those won’t be available until 2024, with season-ticket holders getting the first crack at their seats.
“The CFL’s loudest and most passionate fans will be ready to showcase our province and city to the great fans visiting from coast-to-coast when we host the 112th Grey Cup in our very own stadium,” Miller said. “We’re ready to once again show the country that Manitoba knows how to throw a party and welcome CFL fans.”
You would have to think that part of the reason the Bombers wanted to secure the Grey Cup a year earlier is owing to the team’s aging core. While the likes of head coach Mike O’Shea, along with quarterback Zach Collaros and receiver Nic Demski, are all signed through the 2025 season, there are plenty of others who aren’t.
Defensive end Willie Jefferson, who turned 32 in January and has been living in Winnipeg with his family over the off-season, is under contract until the end of the 2023 campaign. Linebacker Adam Bighill (34) and offensive linemen Stanley Bryant (36) and Jermarcus Hardrick (32), among others, are also without a contract for 2025.
“It’s going to be amazing, just knowing how fun this city is without the Grey Cup, imagine how good it’s going to be with it,” said Jefferson, who was part of the winning Edmonton club in 2015. “It’s going to be a big motivation for guys, like why wouldn’t it be?”
“We’re ready to once again show the country that Manitoba knows how to throw a party and welcome CFL fans.”–Wade Miller
Having the championship game in Winnipeg isn’t just motivation for the older players, but also for the young up-and-comers, including Winnipeg native, Bombers running back Brady Oliveira. Oliveira is entering the final season of his two-year contract, but the idea of competing for a Grey Cup in the city he grew up in has him thinking years down the road.
Oliveira has competed for a Grey Cup in all three seasons he’s played in the CFL, winning twice in 2019 and 2021 before Bombers fell to the Toronto Argonauts, 24-23, in last year’s game. As special as those games were, it would take on a whole new meaning do to it in front of a sold-out crowd at home.
“That would be the cherry on top, the absolute dream to live out, playing in the biggest game of the season and of your career at home,” Oliveira said. “It definitely motivates me… and, for sure, for other guys that are wondering how many more years they have left in the tank, this might be enough to push on. If we get the same group of guys together it would be a special thing.”
Demski won’t have to worry about his contract status for 2025, making what’s coming in a couple more years all the more exciting. The Winnipeg product is fresh off signing a three-year deal with the Bombers following a season in which he set personal single-season highs in receptions (64), yards (772) and touchdowns (10).
“It definitely adds fuel to the fire,” Demski said. “This is where I want to be, and it would be an amazing experience if we could run out the tunnel and be hosting the Grey Cup here. It adds a little bit extra motivation, just to keep working, just keep pushing each other and keep getting better.”
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
Updated on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 10:50 PM CDT: Updates Ambrosie name spelling