Canada

Winnipeg stadium to cost $160M

The cost of a proposed stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers has ballooned to more than $160 million from $115 million, according to a source close to the deal.
The proposed stadium's design features angled canopies partially covering the seats and field. ((Photo Courtesy of BlueandGold.ca))

The cost of a proposed new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers has ballooned to more than $160 from $115 million, according to a source close to the deal.

An updated budget was presented Wednesday to the stakeholders in the deal, however Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger have yet to have the new numbers and details formally presented to them.

The source said the new total includes all the amenities called for in the original proposal, including a sunken playing field, a noise-reducing canopy to cover the stands and an inflatable dome to cover the field in winter so university teams can use it during the CFL off-season.

'We need it, the city needs it and we're going to get it.'—WFC Chairman Bill Watchorn

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.

Reached by telephone Thursday evening, Winnipeg Football Club board chairman Bill Watchorn declined to give specifics, but admitted the cost of the proposed building had risen to levels confirmed by the source.

He said it's not helping his anxiety over how the stadium will be paid for.

"I will be anxious until the day we walk into the new stadium," Watchorn said.

Could still be scrapped

"I've been in business a long time, so I'm never surprised [at] these things. And it's been four years in development, so I'm not surprised that the cost will be higher, either. We just want to make sure that we're looking at apples and apples when we are doing a comparison," Watchorn said.

He said it's a "remote possibility" that the elevated cost could scuttle the project, but was resolute in the city's need for a new stadium.

"I think everybody that I'm aware of and I've talked to are committed to the new stadium. We need it, the city needs it and we're going to get it," Watchorn said.

Winnipeg businessman David Asper's development company, Creswin, is the company charged with building the new stadium, if it's approved.

The provincial government has agreed to provide Creswin with $90 million in bridge financing in order to get the stadium built.

Asper would repay the loan within a specified period and take control of the team, or it would remain community-owned as it is today.

In terms of funding that doesn't need to be paid back by Asper's company, the federal government has pledged $15 million — for the amateur sport component of the facility — and the Manitoba government has offered $20 million.

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