Asper out of Blue Bomber stadium plans

Businessman David Asper is no longer part of the deal for a new Blue Bombers stadium in Winnipeg.

Facility to cost $190M, paid for by football club and government

The proposed design for the proposed Blue Bombers stadium features angled canopies partially covering the seats and field. ((Photo Courtesy of

Businessman David Asper is no longer part of the deal for a new Blue Bombers stadium in Winnipeg.

Mayor Sam Katz made the announcement following a closed-door meeting with councillors about the latest financing arrangements for the new facility, to be located on the University of Manitoba campus.

Asper will be repaid $4 million for his contributions to the project thus far, Katz said.

Katz also told reporters the guaranteed maximum cost for the stadium is $190 million — a price that has been speculated about in the media for several weeks.

Without the private sector investment by Asper, the facility will now be fully paid for by municipal and provincial levels of government and the Winnipeg Football Club (WFC).

Preparation of the stadium site at the U of M campus is already underway. ((

The province will put up about $75 million with the expectation that it will be paid back over many years from tax revenue earned from the old stadium site once it has been developed, Katz said.

The WFC will provide about $85 million, which it will acquire through a long-term loan from the province.

The City of Winnipeg will cover $12.5 million of the cost, to be financed from the sale of the old stadium site near Polo Park. The city and province will also combine for the remaining $17.5 through a variety of grants.

Although the pieces of the prolonged puzzle are now in place, the proposed financing arrangement must still be approved by the bombers board of directors and the University of Manitoba. City council must also have a formal vote on the matter.

And that all has to happen within an extremely tight timeframe. Katz said the $190 million maximum cost guarantee will expire in a couple of days.

City council meets for the final time this year on Dec. 15. Before councillors can approve the deal, they must know everyone else is on board.

And if the deal isn't signed off on by then, the costs will only increase, Katz said.

'A few days away'

Earlier Monday, Winnipeg Football Club board chair Bill Watchorn said the deal was likely still a few days away.

A spokesperson for the club told CBC News the board was set to meet at about 4 p.m. Monday to discuss the deal.

The original estimates for the stadium came in at $115 million, but an updated budget was presented in November to the stakeholders in the deal, indicated the cost had shot up from $115 million to as much as $180 million.

Two days later, Asper, told CBC News there is a chance he might bow out of the process.

Started in spring 2009

The new 33,000-seat stadium would replace the Bombers' current home, the Canad Inns stadium at Polo Park, which needs more than $50 million in repairs. The new facility would also be able to expand seating to accommodate 40,000 for major events like the Grey Cup.

The bubble on the proposed new stadium would resemble this covering on a stadium at Harvard University in Boston. ((Photo courtesy )

In addition to the stadium, the eight-hectare site at Chancellor-Matheson Road and University Crescent on the campus will feature a multiplex athletic facility for the university and its Bison sports teams.

An inflatable dome will cover the field in winter so university teams can use it during the CFL off-season.

When the original plan for the stadium was announced in April 2009, Asper committed $100 million in private money to building it.

In return, the federal government pledged $15 million — for the amateur sport component of the facility — and the Manitoba government offered up $20 million.

But it all hinged on the successful development by Asper's real estate company, Creswin Properties Ltd., of a ritzy retail plaza on the site of Canad Inns Stadium.

When Asper's plan was slowed by financial problems with the retail plaza, the provincial government announced in March 2010 it would contribute $90-million in bridge financing to fast-track construction.

The date for the stadium to be ready changed to the 2011 CFL season.

There has been no word on whether that timeline is still on track with the latest plan or whether the federal government is still on board for the multiplex component.

Excavation of the Bomber stadium bowl in September. ((