Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer has spent the last couple of days dealing with the juiciest hot-button issue on his plate. And his stance couldn't be clearer:

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This article was published 11/11/2009 (4408 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer has spent the last couple of days dealing with the juiciest hot-button issue on his plate. And his stance couldn't be clearer:

Barring an intervention from the club's board of directors, head coach Mike Kelly will be at the rudder of the football team in 2010.

Kelly's sometimes-caustic public persona, the team's 7-11 record and the impact it has had on some disgruntled fans and corporate sponsors is just one of many short-term, right-here, right-now concerns the organization will discuss at its annual year-in-review board meetings within the next few weeks.

But what has the Bombers boss really concerned is the big picture. Specifically, where the franchise is headed in 2010, its 80th season, and beyond.

"There is a lot of debate about this football team right now, but there's also a lot of uncertainty shrouding this organization -- and there has been for the last couple of years -- and we have to do our best to manage that," said Bauer. "I'm talking primarily about ownership and stadium, and there are divided camps out there. And nothing productive comes from uncertainty, because uncertainty leads to speculation and speculation leads to rumours.

"Sitting back and taking a look at it -- with the best interest of our players and our fans and the best interest of the on-field product going forward in mind -- what this team needs is continuity. And right now, the locker-room and football operations is the one area where we can have that continuity, because the rest of it is in the hands of others.

"Once there is clarity, we'll be able to move forward in a very dramatic fashion."

Much of the uncertainty swirling around the franchise will continue to linger as would-be owner David Asper works to realize his proposed retail centre at the current stadium site that would serve as the economic engine for a new stadium at the University of Manitoba. Asper was given a one-year extension by the Bombers board on Oct. 1 to complete his high-end Elms Collection commercial development.

In the meantime, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats received huge news last week with announcement the 2015 Pan Am Games are coming to Toronto and southern Ontario, meaning they will get a new stadium within the next six years. And the Saskatchewan Roughriders are continuing with discussions on a huge stadium project that includes plans for a domed facility or one with a retractable roof.

"We are falling behind Hamilton and possibly Saskatchewan in this," Bauer said. "An expression of interest went out for Saskatchewan the other day and Hamilton is going to get a new stadium with the Pan Am bid. It's unfortunate that wasn't done when Winnipeg hosted the Pan Am Games 10 years ago, because those opportunities only come around once in awhile.

"I know David's working diligently, but there's been some twists and turns in his situation with the economy and such. And, again, until we can get some of the issues resolved, I believe we need to have as much continuity as possible."

Bauer would not reveal if the club had a fall-back plan, insisting the board is committed to Asper's blueprint. As for his own future, the president -- who came aboard in 2000 -- was cryptic.

"Everybody takes some time, at this stage of the year, to reflect about what has gone on and where things are going," he said. "And at some point -- and I haven't been that good at it -- there has to be personal and family considerations. I haven't been as good at that component as I probably should have been over the years. Who knows what happens? Maybe David gets his deal done in the next two months and away you go. Or maybe not. That's part of the uncertainty.

"Everybody has their own reviews and I'm sure I'll have my own discussions with (Bombers chairman) Ken Hildahl over the next few months. But I'll also have discussions with my own VPs and CEOs in my own family."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

The prez says

BOMBERS president and CEO Lyle Bauer offers his thoughts on the following:

On Mike Kelly's future with the team:

"There's no 'recommendation' to the board. Mike has a contract. There's no process where we have to go re-establish everybody. It's a normal review that management does."

On why Kelly should stay:

"The one thing we wanted to change was the culture in our locker-room which is the character and attitude of our football team. People will say 'Doug Berry was 8-10 and they let him go after three playoff years.' But there were things that were going on in our locker-room and with our players that was not going in the right direction. We were 7-11 and, no question about it, we have our challenges on the offensive side. But in that locker-room things are going in the right direction.

"Then you factor in the youth and the fact that we have a handful of free agents and most of the key components are under contract, and that's a big plus. If you're going to lay fault for certain aspects, then you also have to give credit. Our defence is outstanding, probably one of the best defences we've had here in years. Our special teams was outstanding, the best we've had in years."

On the struggles of the offence:

"It underachieved, no question. That's the disappointing part of this season. But this team also beat every team in the league with the exception of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But there's an inconsistency in the offence that needs to be addressed. And if it wasn't for the inconsistencies on the offence, I do believe we would have been 9-9 or 10-8. We gave away a couple of games."

On handling the fans and corporate sponsors who insist they aren't coming back if Kelly is the coach next season:

"You get reactions from a lot of people. Only time will tell whether that plays out. There have been people that have said 'I'm not coming back' and if (Kelly's) not back, there are people who have said, 'I'm not coming back.' This is a team going into its 80th year. There is extreme passion for this club. Our fans have seen the good and not so good over those 80 years.

"There are people who didn't like Earl Lunsford or Paul Robson or Joe Zaleski, people who didn't like Jeff Reinebold or Cal Murphy and don't like Mike Kelly and don't like me. But the Bombers are the Bombers and it's their football team and it showed in that Blue Out."

On Kelly's relationship with the media:

"The board certainly recognizes our head coach needs some assistance in media and public relations. That is without a doubt. There's no question there. From the onset, lines were drawn in certain camps when he made the statement he was going to control the message. I'm not going to get into that, but that didn't help him in any shape or form when it came to media relations. There are some bridges that have to be rebuilt. The passion he has is admirable and something you want, but you also have to learn that just because somebody pokes a sharp stick through the fence at you, you don't always have to react. That's part of being a professional."

On whether Kelly will or can "tone it down":

"It comes with experience and it comes with some honest self-evaluation. That's key to any professional in any business. The media and the Bombers, in a lot of ways, are in exactly the same business -- the business of increasing their audience. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems that it's at the expense of one another."

-- Tait