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Grey Cup hosting ups the ante for Bombers

Mark Cohon, commissioner of the Canadian Football League,  announces the 2015 Winnipeg Grey Cup hosting at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg on Wednesday.

TYLER WALSH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Mark Cohon, commissioner of the Canadian Football League, announces the 2015 Winnipeg Grey Cup hosting at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg on Wednesday.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Canadian Football League confirmed the worst-kept secret in town Wednesday morning with the announcement the 103rd Grey Cup will be held Nov. 29, 2015 at Investors Group Field.

CFL commissioner Mark Cohon told a news conference at IGF that there was something especially fitting about making a Grey Cup announcement on a day like today.

"It feels like Grey Cup weather out there," Cohon laughed.

And then Cohon also laid down a good-natured challenge for the Bombers, pointing out the hosts of the last three Grey Cups in a row -- the BC Lions in 2011, the Toronto Argonauts in 2012 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2013 -- all also won the game they hosted.

"So the pressure’s on -- sorry coach," laughed Cohon as he cast a glance over at Bombers rookie head coach Mike O’Shea, who was seated at a nearby table.

But Bombers CEO Wade Miller insisted no apologies from the commissioner were necessary. "Commissioner, thank you very much for passing over the Grey Cup and reminding us that we will win it in 2015 based on the historical data you have with you," Miller said with a grin.

While there wasn’t much news in the announcement Winnipeg will host the 2015 CFL championship game -- that news has been widely expected for months and finally broke on Monday -- there was some nuggets of information that had not been previously announced:

  • Premier Greg Selinger said the province will contribute $4 million towards the Bombers hosting the game, which he said is expected to generate as much as $100 million in economic impact;
  • The province also announced at the news conference that it will contribute a further $3 million to improving "energy efficiency" at IGF to make the facility easier to use year-round. Officials were strangely vague on what that meant, but pressed for further details, Miller said the improvements would include things that might help the Bombers host, for instance, "a hockey game" at the stadium. It’s widely expected the NHL will soon announce the Winnipeg Jets will be hosting an outdoor Heritage Classic hockey game at the stadium during the winter of 2015-16, which would take advantage of the expanded temporary seating that will already be installed for the Grey Cup;
  • Miller said the stadium, which seats 33,500, will be expanded to hold 41,000 spectators;
  • Miller refused to say how much the Bombers paid the CFL for the hosting rights, but it’s publicly known the Saskatchewan Roughriders paid about $4 million to host the 2013 Grey Cup. Miller said the team expects to earn a profit of $3-4 million hosting the game;
  • Miller said most of the events during Grey Cup Festival Week will be held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, but there will also be events all week long at IGF. Miller also hinted at a "record" tailgating event at the stadium, but said details would follow.

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