Blue Bomber stadium design changes rile residents

Suspicions that cost-overruns might affect design plans for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new football stadium have angered people living near where the facility is to be built.
Officials said in May that the Blue Bombers will be playing in their new stadium by the start of the 2012 season. ((
Suspicions that cost-overruns might affect design plans for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new football stadium have angered people living near where the facility is to be built.

On Monday night, a coalition of Fort Richmond residents will hold a public meeting at the Richmond Kings Community Centre to air their views, which they feel officials and the Winnipeg company developing the project are ignoring.

Many residents told CBC News Thursday that they supported the $115-million stadium plan because it included features such as a sunken playing field and a noise-reducing canopy to cover the stands.

The new 33,000-seat domed stadium is to replace the Bombers' current home, the Canad Inns stadium at Polo Park, which needs more than $50 million in repairs.

But rumblings about possible design changes that could see the canopy and other features scrapped have some people worried.

Jeff Fidyk lives about a kilometre from the University of Manitoba campus where the stadium is to be built and is worried about noise pollution if the canopy is nixed from the plan to save money.

"There's going to be noise — significant noise — pollution in the community … and we shouldn't have to put up with that," Fidyk said.

Fidyk said he and some neighbours have handed out 2,000 flyers detailing their concerns in advance of the Monday meeting.

City councillor may withdraw support

Some city councillors said they are also revisiting their support for the stadium plan. Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said the canopy is a design feature that is very important to the stadium's success.

"That's something that's very important to me, and if we have to sacrifice that, then we have to look at the entire package and see where it goes from there," Vandal said.

In March, the provincial government announced it would contribute $90 million in bridge financing to Winnipeg businessman David Asper's development company, Creswin, to get the stadium construction going.

If Creswin fails to pay off the $90 million as planned, the stadium —and the team — will remain community owned, and the loan will be paid back by the province and the city.

Major redevelopment

A new stadium was needed because the current Canad Inns stadium at Polo Park needs more than $50 million in repairs, the province says.
The new stadium is the major feature of a $137.5-million development that will include a multiplex athletic facility for the university and its Bisons sports teams.

The Bomber stadium accounts for $115 million of the cost, which includes an inflatable dome that will cover the field in winter so university teams can use it during the CFL off-season.

Creswin acknowledged Thursday that the stadium design is not yet set in stone.

"We are in the final stages of the tendering process, and once we have those numbers in hand in the next few weeks, we will sit down with our partners and finalize the stadium design," a spokesperson said. " [It] will include a discussion about the canopy."

Coun. Grant Nordman (St. Charles) said he doesn't feel the inclusion of a canopy is a deal-breaker.

"Lord knows, football's an outdoor sport," he said. "If you have to cover it over to make it comfortable, then you should probably take up Ping-Pong."

Officials said in May that the new stadium will be ready for the Bombers by the start of the 2012 season.

With files from the CBC's Wab Kinew