Investors Group Field – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
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The Loudest Fans in the CFL
Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) is home to the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Colloquially known as “Home of the CFL’s Loudest Fans” (this moniker is proudly on display inside the stadium), the facility opened in 2013, and has a capacity of just over 33,000, but can be expanded to hold 40,000 fans.
Located on the University of Manitoba’s campus, Investors Group Field is also used by the school’s football team for home games, as well as by the Winnipeg Rifles of the CJFL, which is a national amateur Canadian football league, from which some players “graduate” into the CFL after proving their skills.
Food & Beverage 5
Investors Group Field has everything you could expect in terms of food and drink at a sports stadium. There are plenty of concessions stands behind the seats on each sideline, as well as additional options on the plazas behind each end zone.
Food options at Investors Group Field include chicken tenders (regular or spicy), vegetarian perogies, turkey wings, chicken and waffle sandwiches, fried fish, multiple types of hot dogs, chili, butter chicken and rice bowls, several types of burgers (including turkey and chorizo), falafel, shawarma, salads, and pizza, plus all manner of snacks such as popcorn, peanuts, nachos, sunflower seeds, soft pretzels, samosas, vegetarian spring rolls, fries, chips, packaged candy, donuts, cotton candy, and even veggies with dip.
And of course, what Canadian sporting event would be complete without poutine on the menu? If you are visiting from out of country, this is definitely a dish you should try at least once, but even if you are a local, you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer variety of items available at Investors Group Field, with options available to suit any budget. Individual items start at $4 and run all the way up to $13, with combos starting at $12.
Drink options are not quite as numerous, but there is plenty to get you by for a couple of hours. Selections include bottled or fountain soda, bottled water, and coffee or hot chocolate ($2 to $9 for non-alcoholic drinks), as well as beer, wine, and plenty of liquor and mixed drinks – beer starts at $7, liquor starts at $8, wine is $9, and mixed drinks are $16.
Investors Group Field is a great place to take in a football game – the fans are loud, thanks in part to the cantilevered roofs over both sidelines, and all the seats are chair backs, so you can sit in comfort and style. In addition, the Blue Bomber staff brings in plenty of entertainment to keep fans engaged during breaks in the action.
First up are Buzz and Boomer, the two bird mascots decked out in Winnipeg jerseys and helmets, who keep fans entertained along the sidelines. Next is Captain Blue, the Blue Bomber pilot who drives his biplane onto the field before the game and after every Bombers score. You will also hear cannon blasts throughout the game, courtesy of the silvery-blue cannon above the end zone, which is fired after every Winnipeg score. And in addition, some lucky fans are treated to free t-shirts, fired from a Gatling-style gun sponsored by Boston Pizza.
The Winnipeg Blue Bomber players even get into the act, running and jumping into the end zone stands when Winnipeg scores, for high fives and pats on the back from fans in the front row. And then of course you have the ubiquitous fan contests, in this case weight lifting competitions and fans racing each other while inside giant inflatable hamster wheels. The crowd noise is even loud when the stadium is only half full – the decibel level inside Investors Group Field was once measured at the max level of 108.
Winnipeg is a large, sprawling town with plenty of restaurants, hotels, and things to do if you are in town for the day or for the weekend. Being on the University of Manitoba’s campus means there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity of Investors Group Field except parking lots and campus buildings, but there are plenty of restaurant and lodging options within a few minutes’ drive. And if you are coming in from out of town, there are lots of hotels and restaurants near the Winnipeg airport, about 10 km north of the stadium.
If you have time before or after the game, Fort Whyte Alive is a great place to visit in Winnipeg – not far from Investors Group Field, the keynote attraction at Fort Whyte is the Bison Safari on Wednesdays thru Saturdays at 1:30 or 2:30 pm, where you can take a shuttle ride right up to within a few feet of the magnificent animals (Fort Whyte has a population of between 30 and 35 bison on site). There is also a small Interpretive Center on site, which features tons of activities for the kids, and if outdoor activities are your thing, there are several hiking and biking trails on the property, as well as activities on the water such as sailing.
Another popular attraction in Winnipeg is touring the National Mint, where coins from around the world are made. The mint has daily tours every half hour starting at 9 am – reservations are not required but are helpful if you want to schedule a specific time. Note that the tours are better on weekdays, however, since the productions lines are turned off on weekends, but you can still tour the facility on weekends if you choose (the tour is exactly the same, except that the machines are off and the line workers are not there).
Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans get credit for being as loud as they are, but sadly the facility does not always sell out – at a typical game you might only see half to two-thirds of the seats filled. On the plus side, however, a high percentage of fans are decked out in team gear, so you will definitely feel right at home if you choose to show up in your Bombers gear.
It is easy enough to get to Investors Group Field, and you can see its distinctive outline from kilometers away – the highways around Winnipeg (and much of Canada) are actually really well done, with lots of six and eight-lane divided roads laid out to speed the traffic flow; credit goes to the local city planners, it is obvious they planned ahead when building the streets here.
Unfortunately the parking situation at Investors Group Field leaves a little to be desired – as expected, the stadium being on campus means there are lots of parking restrictions, and not many side streets too park along in the vicinity. Cash parking is available in the Gold and Blue lots for $20 on the east side of the stadium (or you can park in the Black value lot for $10 further away to the east), but for the closer in lots will need a pass.
However, once you get inside the stadium it is really easy to move around – there are giant plazas behind each end zone you can use to get from side to side, so you can enter at any gate and still find your seat with ease. There are also plenty of bathrooms inside Investors Group Field to accommodate the size of the crowd, although as with most sports venues you may face lines at the concessions during peak periods like halftime.
Return on Investment 4
Single game ticket prices for Winnipeg Blue Bombers games start at about $32 CAD, which is in line with professional sports throughout Canada, and is slightly lower than pro football games in the US. Parking is reasonable at $20, and if you are careful with your spending, you can do okay at the concessions as well.
That said, with a large group you may end up spending a bit more than you would like (assuming you are picking up the whole tab), but the cost per person at Investors Group Field is a pretty good value for professional football.
How many sports venues can boast three mascots? A lot of stadiums feature twin mascots like Buzz and Boomer, but adding Captain Blue and his biplane to the mix is really above and beyond. Furthermore, having the players themselves interact with fans by jumping into the stands when the home team scores really takes Investors Group Field to a whole new level. And don’t forget the cannon either, blue in color for the Bombers and fired after every score – again, while lots of sports venues might have one or two of these elements, very few have all three.
Being the loudest stadium in the CFL is also a plus, and the staff really deserves credit for having so much fan interaction in terms of contests and giveaways.
CFL games are a lot of fun, thanks in part to having only 3 downs instead of 4, giving every snap the potential to turn into a big play. So if you have never been to a CFL game, or if you have but have never seen one in Winnipeg, I would encourage you to check out Investors Group Field – you won’t be disappointed.
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