New Winnipeg stadium proposal unveiled

David Asper, who has been working for more than a year on a plan to build a new football stadium in Winnipeg, has unveiled more detailed plans for a year-round, bubble-covered stadium and water park complex in the Point Douglas neighbourhood.
A map of David Asper's proposed stadium plan in the Point Douglas neighbourhood. ((
David Asper, who has been working for more than a year on a plan to build a new football stadium in Winnipeg, has unveiled more detailed plans for a year-round, bubble-covered stadium and water park complex in the Point Douglas neighbourhood.

The nearly $400-million development would transform 20 hectares of land on the south side of the inner-city neighbourhood.

"It would allow us to be a part of improving this historic community while showcasing a premium Winnipeg stadium situated along the banks of the Red River and with views of our downtown skyline," Asper, executive vice-president of Canwest Global Communications, said in a release.

Asper unveiled his new proposal for a Point Douglas stadium and water park complex on Friday. ((
The project includes a 30,000- to 40,000-seat, bubble-covered stadium and water park, "designed by the team responsible for Disney World and West Edmonton [Mall]" with clear, retractable walls that would open in summer and close in the winter.

It also includes a pedestrian bridge across Red River to Whittier Park and Fort Gibraltar in St. Boniface, and major traffic and infrastructure upgrades that could include off-ramps from the Disraeli Freeway and the "relocation" of Higgins Avenue north so that it runs immediately parallel to the current rail line.

Despite a price tag that is nearly twice that of his previous Polo Park proposal, the Point Douglas plan reduces the amount of public money sought to $25 million from the province and $15 million from the federal government. The city would be responsible for land assembly, the proposal indicates.

The deal would be "driven" by the sale, to Asper's company Creswin, of the Polo Park land where the 55-year-old current arena sits. It also requires the approval of the Winnipeg Football Club's board of directors.

Asper's previous Polo Park proposal called for $40 million each from Manitoba and Ottawa for a $265-million project.

Politicians express cautious optimism

The waterfront stadium proposal includes new public docks, so football fans could travel to games by boat. ((
Winnipeg city councillors got the details of the plan from Mayor Sam Katz Friday morning.

Mike Pagtakhan, the councillor for the area, left the closed-door meeting grinning ear to ear, saying the development would be an amazing boost for a part of the city few people know.

When asked what could happen to people who live in the Point Douglas area, Pagtakhan said some of their homes could be moved to another part of the neighbourhood.

Both Pagtakhan and Katz said a deal would have to be signed before they got too excited about the proposal. Katz said the city has yet to examine the costs involved.

On the provincial side, Premier Gary Doer called the stadium proposal "exciting," but said the province still has to look it over before deciding to commit. He said the complex would likely generate more provincial revenue in sales tax than the $25 million the province is being asked to contribute.

Federal politicians have previously expressed interest in the Point Douglas location, saying it offers a community-development approach.

Talk of 2nd water park doesn't faze Canad Inns

Canad Inns' proposed water park, as pictured in a City of Winnipeg report. ((City of Winnipeg/Number Ten Architectural Group))
Leo Ledohowski, who is behind a plan to build Winnipeg's first indoor water park, is sitting on the fence when it comes to talk of a second water park being built at the site of a new stadium. 

The city's executive policy committee last week approved a recommendation to help fund a $56-million proposal by the Canad Inns hotel chain that includes 100 new rooms for the existing Canad Inns hotel at Polo Park and a 66,000-square-foot indoor water park

But Canad Inns president Ledohowski is taking a wait-and-see approach to suggestions that a second water park could be coming.

"We're not going to be changing our sort of long-developed plans … based on something that might happen or might not happen," he said Thursday. "We'll just be proceeding as we predicted."

Ledohowski said he's not sure there would be enough demand in the city to support a second water park.

"I'd be hesitant to be the second one in. These are very expensive propositions," he said.

"I'd have to do a real case study. We did our numbers based upon our location, along with what will turn out to be a 200-and-some-odd-room hotel and one of the best locations, tied in to the shopping centre, etc., so that it's great for export tourism," he said.

"What it would mean on another site or not would require another study on our part."

Ledohowski's proposal is expected to get the green light from city council in the next few weeks. City council must approve the proposal before $7 million in funding from the provincial and municipal governments flows to the project.