Premier Greg Selinger is confident taxes and levies coming out of continued development at Polo Park will pay a significant portion of the debt to build Investors Group Field.

Selinger's bullish attitude on Winnipeg's retail sector comes despite a stall in development on the site that has prompted a delay in paying interest on a massive loan to build the stadium. 

Figures show the total cost for the project now stands around $376 million when interest payments are included. Since construction started, $8.2 million of interest has accumulated and not been paid off.

"The good news is that we know that Winnipeg is going to be a city of one million people in the next 15 years. That means there is going to be more population — more demand for retail," Selinger said.

Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives, however, continue to call for an audit into the Investors Group Field project.

Premier Greg Selinger says Polo Park will pay for stadium

Premier Selinger says Polo Park development should improve. (CBC NEWS)

"The cost of the stadium has more than tripled from the $115 million originally announced by the Selinger NDP to a reported $376 million, and will likely continue to soar even higher and result in more money out of the pockets of Manitobans," said a PC news release on Tuesday.

"The PCs will continue to work on behalf of taxpayers and with an audit, we can learn what happened and prevent future waste of this magnitude," said Heather Stefanson, Opposition critic for the City of Winnipeg, in the release.

Impact of Target's closure

The closure of a Target store at Polo Park and delays in new stores being built around the massive retail development have done little to dampen Selinger's belief that, eventually, property taxes and a provincial levy on the site will contribute to paying down the stadium debt.

"The developer of that site still believes that the prospects are reasonable to fully develop that site," Selinger said.

He called Polo Park "the Class-A site for commercial and retail development in Manitoba."

The business plan to finance the stadium costs relies on the Polo Park site generating $75 million in taxes over the life of the loans, set to be paid off by 2056.

There is a risk: Selinger 

Selinger did acknowledge there was a risk in linking the financing of a big piece of the stadium construction to a commercial development.

"There is a risk if the site isn't fully developed by the expected timelines, but we do know with the population growth and the economic growth it will develop, so if there has to be an adjustment that can be recommended to us as we get close to that deadline," Selinger said.

Selinger is pleased the new stadium has provided an economic anchor to bring big events to Winnipeg, touting last summer's FIFA Women's World Cup soccer matches and the recent Grey Cup. But the stadium construction and the interest charges on the loans have added up to a big number.

Officials at Manitoba Finance peg the total capital costs to complete stadium at $209 million. The interest charges will add another $167 million over the life of the loan for a total of approximately $376 million. 

Despite an apparent soft market for retail expansion around Polo Park and new places for people to shop on the horizon at the nearby Seasons of Tuxedo mall, Selinger is adamant, "Polo Park will develop."

Corrections

  • The cost of building Investors Group Field when including interest payments will be approximately $376 million, the provincial government says. An earlier version of this story based on figures received from the Manitoba government said the cost was about $210 million with about $160 million in interest payments, for a total of about $370 million. The provincial government has since provided corrected figures of $209 million with $167 million in interest payments.
    Jan 05, 2016 10:29 AM CT