The Canadian Football League’s marquee game – and for decades this country’s biggest single-day sporting event – is coming back to Winnipeg.
And it’s coming back bigger and better than ever.
The league and the Blue Bombers officially confirmed today the 2025 Grey Cup game and festival is returning to the city and the province, marking the fifth time the championship will be held here and first since 2015. Winnipeg/Canad Inns Stadium was previously the site of the 1991, 1998 and 2006 Grey Cups, with IG Field first hosting the game in 2015.
“It’s great that we’re here today,” said Blue Bombers President and CEO Wade Miller at a media gathering in the Pinnacle Club at IG Field. “It’s a great announcement for the city and the province. We’re really excited to be hosting another Grey Cup. And 2025 can’t come soon enough.”
The Blue Bombers had also bid on the 2024 game before it was awarded to Vancouver and won the right to host the 112th Grey Cup and the accompanying festival with a bid CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie repeatedly described as ‘spectacular.’
“Their bid was so compelling,” Ambrosie said. “It’s about the community, it’s about bringing the entire province together. It was just the right time, and it was the strongest bid for 2025 and here we are.”
“… The word ‘community’ is what came out over and over again in their bid. They’ve got a big emphasis on amateur football, on flag football, on getting kids involved in Grey Cup. There’s a big emphasis on making this a provincial Grey Cup, not just a City of Winnipeg Grey Cup.
“One element I really love is there is a big element on food, which you’re not going to be surprised with the guy that is standing in front of you that played offensive line in this league, food was a big part of it, and they’ve got a really interesting plan for a food strategy. Again, much in the spirit and the way this city has operated for decades, it’s about bringing people together, feed them well and let them enjoy each other’s friendship and camaraderie.”
Capacity at IG Field will not be expanded for the 2025 Grey Cup, although some premium seating will be added to the Sky Deck in the south end. Regular capacity is 33,234 and Miller said to expect the game to feel like a Banjo Bowl, only louder. The date for the game is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 16th, although Ambrosie said that date could change.
“We have other things going on around the league; one of them is expansion which is a huge priority for us,” he said. “We know if we can land our expansion strategy that could advance Grey Cup by a couple of weeks. We have a date in mind, and we’ll target toward that date, but we also have the flexibility if needed that we could make a change.”
Of note: the CFL changed the Grey Cup bid model in 2018 where each franchise now shares in the profits from the events, rather than teams providing a financial bid to host and then entirely reaping whatever profits generated. As well, beginning next season with the 2024 game, CFL players will also begin sharing in the event’s revenue. Miller said that will impact the club’s take from the game, noting that the trade-off is the team now benefits from an annual share of Grey Cup revenue.
The Grey Cup selection committee, FYI, now includes the two previous Grey Cup hosts, along with the organization hosting it in the current season – in this case that’s Hamilton (2021 and 2023) and Saskatchewan (2022).
Miller said the club really began contemplating a Grey Cup bid during the 2021 championship in Hamilton in conversation with Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson. Last fall, the Manitoba government announced it would invest $5.5 million in support of the Grey Cup bid.
“I think what set our bid apart was the festival week and the different events,” said Miller. “You’ll hear in the next year or so the different ways we’re going to add to the festival that maybe look a little unique to what you’ve seen at other Grey Cup festivals.”
It was also announced on Tuesday that former Winnipeg Football Club Board Chair Dayna Spiring and current WFC Vice Chair Barb Gamey would chair the Grey Cup Committee.
“Wearing my economic development hat, we also know events like this are so important for our community and they provide real and immediate economic impact to our city and province,” said Spiring. “We are really thrilled to be a part of that.”