Mayor warns of 'big trouble' in stadium delay

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz warned on Wednesday that there will be "big trouble" if business magnate David Asper is unable to complete arrangements to build a new stadium.
The new stadium will accommodate 45,000 seats and have an inflatable dome during the winter. ((
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz warned on Wednesday that there will be "big trouble" if business magnate David Asper is unable to complete arrangements to build a new stadium.

On Oct. 1, The Winnipeg Blue Bombers board of directors granted Asper a year-long extension for his plans to construct a retail complex on the current site of Canad Inns Stadium near Polo Park Shopping Centre. 

Through his property-development company Creswin Properties, Asper plans to use revenue generated by the 650,000 sq. foot retail development to finance the construction of a new, $135 million stadium on an eight-hectare site at Chancellor Matheson Drive and University Crescent on the University of Manitoba campus.

Asper cited a sluggish economy as a reason for needing the delay.

But a further kink in the works is that the current stadium is in need of repairs. Blue Bombers officials say the football club needs to be out of the current stadium within a maximum of seven years.

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said Wednesday that there's no money to be had from the city to upgrade Canad Inns Stadium while a David Asper-backed deal to build a new one is being worked out. ((Adam Hunter/CBC))
Katz told CBC News on Wednesday that should the football club come to the city for renovation money, there's nothing to give.

"There's no contingency plan," Katz said. "No one's sitting on a pot of money that I'm aware of.

"If the football club or their representatives want to come talk to the province or city, obviously those discussions would take place. But contrary to what people think, we're not sitting on pots of money. Because if we were, I'd fix our streets first," Katz said.

Currently, the Blue Bombers are a community-owned CFL franchise.

Asper would own the team as part of the stadium deal.

In an open letter to the public on Asper's website devoted to the new stadium deal, he said he's well aware of the state of the current stadium site and the need to move quickly.

"Money spent there is, to coin a phrase, good money going after bad. The continuing decay of the current stadium as confirmed in studies commissioned by the football club, province, city and Creswin, is headed toward a potential expenditure measured in the many tens of millions of dollars unless we can get into a new facility," Asper said.