WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have decided Christopher Walken was right, more cowbell is the answer.
Walken made the phrase "more cowbell" into an iconic pop-culture catchphrase with his famous Saturday Night Live skit with Will Ferrell.
But Bomber fans weren't laughing Monday after they learned the team had decided there would be no more cowbell at home games. The CFL club quickly reversed the ban after fans vented on the Internet.
"I don't understand why this team hates its fans so much," one posted on the Bomber fan forum website. "We're there in huge numbers every week, and they slap us in the face repeatedly."
Delays getting the new stadium up and running have already irritated many fans, who say the team should have acknowledged long before it did that Investors Group Field was way behind schedule.
Even the more recent tentative opening date in September has now been cast in doubt, with much of the season already planned to take place at the old Canad Inns Stadium.
The new noisemaker ban, which also included a ban on plastic water bottles brought in from outside, was just too much for some to bear.
"The thing is a cowbell was always part of the experience, whether it was my Grandpa that brought it, or the people around me that I sit with," posted a fan under the name Sir Blue and Gold.
"It was always just there. It's a small thing. I understand this, but it's something that made the experience unique, and getting rid of it for a few people who complained is infuriating."
What made it even more galling for some was the fact that they had purchased $40 cowbells at the Bomber Store. There's one retail outlet attached to Canad Ins Stadium and another at a south Winnipeg shopping mall.
The aptly named Jim Bell, the team's vice-president and chief operating officer, was forced to backtrack while the morning was still young.
"After listening to our fans, we would like to inform everyone that over-the-counter purchased cowbells will be permitted at home games this season," Bell declared as the outrage mounted.
"But homemade noisemakers such as empty paint cans with rocks inside or any other device that may be deemed unsafe by our security staff will not be permitted.
"It was never our intention to diminish the fan experience, and we do encourage fans to bring thunder sticks, clappers and plastic horns powered by human voice, however, all of which will be at the sole discretion of the football club."
That last phrase still left some fans muttering a little, but for the most part the outcry was muted.
After practice Monday, Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce said a noisy stadium adds to the excitement and has always been something a football team counts on for home games.
"I think it's fun for the fans, it's good for the CFL, just being loud and enjoying the atmosphere," he said.
Pierce added that the noise can impair the pivot's ability to transmit signals to players.
"As an opposing quarterback, it definitely affects you. The louder places are usually the tougher places to prepare for and play."
All-star defensive back Jovon Johnson said hearing cowbells on the gridiron seems to be a uniquely Canadian experience. He doesn't remember them when he played south of the border.
"I don't really know if I've ever seen a cowbell in a game in the States. I've never seen it but it may happen."