'We light that place up': Winnipeg fan gearing up for Bombers, Roughriders match in West Division final

Fans are gearing up for a game they hope will bring the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a step closer to once again bringing home the Grey Cup.

Winner will advance to Dec. 12 Grey Cup final game in Hamilton

The Blue Bombers celebrated a Banjo Bowl win over Saskatchewan earlier this year. Their defence will be looking to pump up the volume for Sunday's playoff rematch. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Winnipeg fans are gearing up for a game they hope will take the Blue Bombers a step closer to once again bringing home the Grey Cup.

The Bombers face off against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL's West Division final on Sunday.

Among the fans who will be there to cheer on the home team is Tina Antonation, also known as Bomber Woman — a superhero persona inspired by Wonder Woman.

For her, being at the game at Winnipeg's IG Field will bring a feeling she never gets tired of.

"It's absolutely electric. It honestly doesn't matter if it's a pre-season game or [the] Banjo Bowl, we light that place up on fire," Antonation said.

"We're called the CFL's loudest fans for a reason."

She's hoping the Bombers come out with the win they need to send them to the Grey Cup next week, but Antonation said her group is planning to travel to watch the final either way.

Tina Antonation — pictured here with Buzz, one of the Bombers' mascots — will be among the fans cheering for Winnipeg on Sunday. She's also known as Bomber Woman, a superhero persona inspired by Wonder Woman. (Submitted by Tina Antonation)

She and her friends have already bought their tickets for next weekend's Grey Cup match in Hamilton. The West Division winner will take on the winner of Sunday's East Division final between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts.

"I'm excited for this team, no matter what they do," Antonation said.

"We are the defending champs. And you know what, no matter what happens, I'm going to be there to represent my team."

Even though it's December, fans at Sunday's game will still have the option to park their bikes with a valet service. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

That game is also where some of the team's players will be handed their CFL Awards, she said, so "there's still so much to celebrate."

Antonation said she's looking forward to her pre-game ritual on Sunday, getting ready and listening to pump-up music with a friend who also has season tickets.

Those tunes even include some from the team's players, like wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky and defensive back Brandon Alexander.

"We always have to have that element to our game-day experience," she said.

Confident about a Bomber win

Orville Desjarlais will be in the stands with Antonation cheering on the Bombers.

"I have no doubt in my mind we are going to wipe them, for sure," he said.

The long-time Bombers fan was at the 2019 Grey Cup parade and is so confident in his team, he expects to hit the streets again when the Bombers take home the cup.

Although he won't be in the stands, Darrin Miller will be cheering on the Bombers from home with some friends.

He's glad Winnipeg is playing Saskatchewan.

"It couldn't be better. It's such an awesome rivalry we've had with the Riders all these years, it'd be great to kick their butts again."

Bike valet still running

Mike Stoton is also getting ready for Sunday's big game.

The volunteer supervisor of the team's bike valet program says even in December, fans still make use of the service, which ensures their rides are watched while they watch the game.

It would probably take a blizzard to shut it down, he said.

"The biggest reason is, first of all, the environmental impact. They're not driving their vehicles. Also, they're saving on parking, which means more money to spend in the stadium for food and souvenirs," he told host Stephanie Cram in an interview with CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show.

"And they just love the convenience that the bike valet is located right by gate three. They don't have to walk too far to get into the stadium, and they love the fact that the area is secure and it's being watched throughout the whole game." 

Every home game, hundreds of Blue Bomber fans have been riding their bikes to IG field, and parking in the Bike Valet. And the fact that it's December that won't discourage a lot of them from riding to the West Final! Mike Stoton is the volunteer who runs the bike valet, and he joined Stephanie Cram on the Weekend Morning Show! 4:39

Stoton said there's a wide range of people who use the service, like couples who bike to the game together and people who just head over on their two wheels after work.

And while there's no cost, volunteers do accept tips from fans who are able to spare some cash, he said.

The service uses a tagging system to track which bikes belong to which fans, and to make sure they're reunited at the end of the game.

And as a Blue Bombers fan himself, Stoton said he's excited to be at the stadium — and he thinks the team has a pretty good chance of winning, too.

"I'm actually feeling really good about it," he said.

The West Division final is set set to begin at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday. The East Division final between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts starts at 11:30 a.m. CT.

With files from Stephanie Cram


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