Organizers of the 2006 Grey Cup will be on pins and needles this morning when tickets go on sale to the general public, but they're still feeling pretty optimistic about their chances for a sellout.
The local Grey Cup committee is hoping this November's CFL championship match in Winnipeg won't plummet to the futility of the 1998 game, when only 34,217 spectators showed up at Winnipeg Stadium to watch Calgary beat Hamilton.
Grey Cup co-chairman Gene Dunn said the fact that the league and its championship week have become more popular in the last five or six years almost guarantees that Winnipeg will attract a full house.
"It's growing, and this will be different than '98, particularly if we can come out of the box and win a few games," Dunn said.
The revamping of the Blue Bomber squad aside, the team's season-ticket holders had first dibs to snap up tickets, and now the rest of the country will have its turn.
"Our fans have been great so far, but we need to sell beyond our fan base, and I'm anxious to see how that's going to go," Dunn said.
"We've had a tremendous amount of interest outside the city, and of course from the other teams. So we are anticipating that this game will get sold out fairly early."
The committee is erecting 15,000 temporary seats, which will push the capacity for the Nov. 19 game to approximately 45,000. Dunn said it will cost between $70 and $80 to install each one of those 15,000 extra seats.
"That's one of the expenses that our club has that Edmonton and Vancouver don't have," he said. "That's put us at a little bit of a disadvantage, but hopefully we'll be able to sell enough to make up for it."
Besides the big game, Grey Cup week will also include the CFL Player Awards, the Grey Cup Parade, four nights of entertainment at the Convention Centre, a "major concert" at MTS Centre and the CFL Fan Experience.
Ticket prices for the game range from $93.85 in the north end zone to $335.85 in the Alumni Lounge. They are available at all local Ticketmaster outlets or online at ticketmaster.com, beginning at 10 a.m.
WRIGHT ON: Dunn threw his team's support yesterday behind CFL commissioner Tom Wright, who's getting heat for being on vacation during the financial fiasco that is unfolding in Ottawa regarding the Renegades.
"Tom is completely tuned in and up to speed on what's going on," said Dunn, a Winnipeg Football Club board member.
CAN BE ACHIEVED
Dunn hopes the situation is resolved without the Bombers and other CFL teams having to bail out the Renegades financially, and he believes that can be achieved.
"We don't want to lose any more hard-earned money," Dunn said. "This year's the opportunity to put some money in the bank and establish the foundation for our future. And to see some of that potentially go away would be disheartening for us.
"... Bernie Glieberman is a very bright and successful individual, and he's a man of great integrity."