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Council approves new stadium deal

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WINNIPEG - City council has approved its end of a plan to complete a $190-million football stadium at the University of Manitoba.

Council voted 14-2 in favour of a plan that will see the city devote cash, services in kind and future property taxes toward a new 33,000-seat facility for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and U of M Bisons.

The province plans to front most of the cost of the project and also provide an outright grant of $22.5 million.

It intends to recoup $75 million from future city and provincial property taxes emanating from new developments at the existing Canad Inns Stadium site, once the city sells the 26.2-acre Polo Park property.

The province also expects to recoup $85 million from the Winnipeg Football Club - $15 million interest-free by 2016, and then $70 million with interest over the ensuing 40 years.

The city would contribute a $7.5-million grant, using proceeds from the sale of the existing stadium site.

The city would also donate $1.1 million worth of services in kind, such as permit fees, and make $1.4 million worth of traffic improvements around the U of M stadium site.

The city also expects to spend millions on traffic upgrades in the Polo Park area, using proceeds from the land sale, which is expected to be in the vicinity of $30 million.

Using the same proceeds, the city also plans to spend $2.5 million on a new fitness centre at the U of M and renovations to University Stadium. The province plans to spend $5 million on this component, while Ottawa will spend $15 million.

The deal before council also states the city won't be on the hook if the Winnipeg Football Club can not meet its commitments to the province.

Mayor Sam Katz said he believes in the club's business plan and reiterated his belief the plan is good for the city.

St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves said the money the city intends to spend is irrelevant considering the tourism and civic benefits of a new stadium.

But Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt - the only member of council to vote against a previous stadium deal in April - said the city has more pressing infrastructure needs.

In the end, only Wyatt and Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith voted in opposition.

Before the debate, Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation appeared before council to denounce what he described as a misuse of public funds.

Craig urged the city to repair Canad Inns Stadium on the short term and spend a decade coming up with a better plan for a new stadium.

He also derided the city for holding no consultations about a $190-million project when the city held meetings about $125,000 bike routes.

On Tuesday, six city councillors tried to delay the stadium debate by pledging not to allow the plan to be walked on to city council this morning.

That led Katz to call a special meeting, where their permission was not required.


Updated on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 at 12:48 PM CST: Adds special stadium meeting moved up

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