There has been a lot of recent rumour across the country surrounding the kick-off of the Canadian Premier League. It hasn’t quite been the same in Winnipeg where news is hard to come by, progress is slow, and the club has been silent.
The Red River Rising supporters’ group has continued to meet on a monthly basis. We swap footy stories over a pint and dream about the day when we get the announcement about the league launch.
It is a small but loyal bunch – we consistently get 5-10 attendees. We’ve been planning how we can help the Winnipeg team grow the game locally and how we can improve the atmosphere around the stadium and the city when the league is under way.
The most exciting recent news was from CPL Project Manager Paul Beirne at a Footy Talks event in Toronto a couple weeks ago. Luckily those of us who aren’t in Toronto could watch the event on Facebook. As usual Paul was as open as he could be with the crowd and gave some interesting hints about the league.
He mentioned that league kick-off announcement was forthcoming – likely in 60-90 days. We’re hoping it is more like 60 days, which means LATE NOVEMBER!
Another important point Beirne made was that teams will find success with attendance of 8,000-12,000 at games. We’ve discussed what we’d consider a good crowd at Investors Group Stadium for a game and started with a minimum of 5,000 fans. We would likely consider any less than 10,000 in the stands to be disappointing. At the recent Canadian Women’s friendly there were about 14,000 fans and that filled both sides of the lower bowl. The gift and curse of the stadium is its size. It fits well over 30,000 fans, so if the crowd is small we’ll have to work extra hard to create the right atmosphere.
I spoke to a couple of my fellow founding members of Red River Rising about the recent developments. Adam Johnston – coordinator for Red River Rising – has had conversations with the Blue Bombers. We were lucky to sit down with a representative in the summer and introduce ourselves. Unfortunately, they have been busy with a successful CFL season so we’ve yet to make real progress on developing the relationship.
Johnston said, “I think we as a supporters’ group are excited and chomping at the bit to see the return of professional soccer back in Winnipeg. Although it’s been really quiet for a while with limited news, rest assured, we will be ready to go and bring the noise.”
World famous Voyageur and Red River Rising member Nicky Cottee is equally enthusiastic with the prospect of pro soccer in Winnipeg. She said “I was really excited when Winnipeg was announced as a CPL city, but the lack of information since then made me a bit antsy. Now that we are hearing that things are starting to move along, my excitement is building again. I can’t wait for the announcement to come so we can hit the ground running with building support around the team.”
While we don’t know exactly when the announcement will be, all of the recent buzz points to movement with the league, ownership groups in yet to be named locations, and a real sense of hope that the league will be up and running soon.
Find Red River Rising on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the latest.