Moments after Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo’s final pass of the West Division final clunked off the crossbar and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers claimed their spot in the 107th Grey Cup, superfan Dan LeBlanc began planning his trip.
Step one for LeBlanc, 41, was punching his ticket to the CFL’s final dance in Calgary.
"I looked over at my girlfriend and told her to buy two tickets as close (to the field) as you can get," said LeBlanc, who was in the third row at Regina's Mosaic Stadium for Sunday’s playoff game.
The Winnipegger will sit five rows away from the Blue Bombers sideline when they face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday. The Bombers and Ticats have met in the Grey Cup eight times, their latest clash in 1984 (won 47-17 by Winnipeg).
"This year, I just had a feeling that if the Bombers were in it, I wanted really good seats," said LeBlanc, adding he had tickets in the second-last row for last year’s Grey Cup in Edmonton.
LeBlanc will leave Wednesday for Alberta — and is one of many Bombers fans deciding to fork over the cash for the football-themed trip.
Others, such as Ray St. Mars, will be arriving in Calgary by air.
St. Mars, 33, has attended more than 25 Bombers road games, but Sunday will be his first road Grey Cup.
"Soon as the (score) clock hit zeros, we got on the phone and ordered a bunch of tickets," said St. Mars. "I couldn’t go to the Grey Cup and watch anybody else."
“Soon as the (score) clock hit zeros, we got on the phone and ordered a bunch of tickets. I couldn’t go to the Grey Cup and watch anybody else.” – Ray St. Mars
Jeff Hampson, 30, nearly jumped the gun after a late push from the Roughriders, who fell short on the final play of a 20-13 Winnipeg win.
"When we got the ball with like 30 seconds, I ran over to the computer and started looking at (Grey Cup) seats but my wife told me ‘Not yet’ — since we didn’t get the turnover," he said.
Hampson plans to attend the Winnipeg Jets game Saturday, fly to Calgary Sunday morning, and come back to Winnipeg for the Jets skills competition Monday.
"It’s a real busy 72 hours," he said.
And not just for Hampson.
Mike Franco, chairman of the 2019 Grey Cup Festival, said Monday ticket sales are well over 30,000 since becoming available May 7. McMahon Stadium's capacity for the title game will be roughly 40,000.
"We had 500 right away after the (division final) games were completed. Both are hungry fanbases," said Franco. "There’s great opportunity to get tickets still and come experience the energy in Calgary."
Part of the draw: all official CFL team parties will be located in one area — organizers have coined it "Energy Avenue."
"When a team gets in the game, that spot becomes more popular," said Franco. "My guess is Touchdown Manitoba will be a very popular place during Grey Cup week."
WestJet had not dedicated any additional aircraft between Winnipeg and Calgary, but was monitoring the route, according to public relations manager Lauren Stewart. During the winter, WestJet usually offers up to five flights per day between the two Prairie cities.
The Blue Bombers will not host an official viewing party in Winnipeg, but will instead partner with Boston Pizza restaurants at all city locations, plus in Portage, Selkirk, Steinbach, and Morden.
Bombers creative director Rhéanne Marcoux said the CFL team will also be selling "Grey Cup Party Packs" (which includes souvenir cups) at the Bomber Store for $20 each.
Updated on Monday, November 18, 2019 at 10:29 PM CST: Updates photo