December 14, 2011

Bombers add naming rights to new Stadium


WINNIPEG — The concrete and steel are taking shape at the University of Manitoba and now the new home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers officially has a name.

The 33,500-seat stadium will be called Investors Group Field.

The Bombers announced Wednesday they had reached a 12-year agreement with the financial services company to name the stadium.

They wouldn’t say what they received, although at one time they were reportedly looking for around $20 million.

“We’re very proud of having a long-term 12 year deal that does meet all of our financial requirements for sure,” said Bombers’ transition officer Jeff Thompson.

“We had tremendous interest. We weighed all of the pros and cons every time we met with prospective partners and we landed here today.”

The stadium is currently expected to cost a relatively modest $190 million and be open in time for the 2012 CFL season. It will also be home to the University of Manitoba Bisons.

The province is paying the lion’s share up front but the Bombers are supposed to repay about $85 million over time. The city and federal government are also making contributions.

Winnipeg-based Investors Group was founded in 1926 and is now part of the IGM Financial Inc. group of companies, which together have around $121 billion in assets under management.

Winnipeg-based hotel chain Canad Inns had the naming rights to the old field and Thompson says he expects they will continue to have a sponsorship relationship with the football team in some fashion.

Premier Greg Selinger and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz were on hand for the announcement, along with Investors president Murray Taylor.

Taylor noted both the football club and Investors have been in Winnipeg for more than 80 years.

“We are very proud to have Winnipeg as our headquarters,” he said.

“Our partnership with the Winnipeg Football Club goes back about 35 years and through that time we’ve had many ways to work together.”

Investors name already appears on the Investors Group Athletic Centre, near where the new stadium is being built at the university.

Most of the seating at the stadium is covered, although the field is open to the sky, and it’s expandable to 40,000 seats for special events or the Grey Cup.

The new stadium plus a little spillover of sports hype from the return of the Winnipeg Jets drove Bomber season ticket sales – and overall attendance – to new highs in 2011.

On the field the team also saw a resurgence, finishing first in the East and making it to the Grey Cup, although the Bombers lost to the B.C. Lions.

They now have a waiting list for season tickets at the new field, which will become active once current season ticket holders make their selections next month.