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Transit subsidy for Bombers will have to wait a bit longer

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Mayor Sam Katz

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The Winnipeg Football Club will have to wait a few more weeks to learn whether city hall will provide it with a subsidy for Transit services for events at the IGF stadium.

The deal that has been six months in the making did not make it onto the agenda of today’s council meeting, as the team had hoped.

But Mayor Sam Katz said it will likely be debated at the May meeting.

Katz said he recognizes the community will be divided over the issue.

"It’s between a rock and a hard place," Katz told reporters following this morning’s council meeting.

Bombers CEO Wade Miller said today he was disappointed the deal wasn’t brought to council today, adding it’s urgent the transit matter be resolved as soon as possible.

As first reported by the Free Press, the Bombers and the city have a tentative agreement to substantially reduce the cost for additional Transit services for events – CFL games, concerts and other events – at the stadium.

Rather than paying full charter rates, as was charged to the team in 2013, the city agreed to reduce the fee by over 40 per cent for this year and next.

That will leave the city with a shortfall of $750,000 this year and an estimated $950,000 for 2015.

Miller told the Free Press that it cost the team $1.226 million in 2013 for Transit services, an amount far more than it expected to pay.

Miller said the team isn’t prepared to pay that amount going forward – either the city lowers the rate or the team would find alternative transportation for its fans.

Katz said the deal wasn’t brought to council this morning because the city is still waiting for additional information from the football team and for written confirmation from the provincial government that it will share the cost of the shortfall.

Premier Greg Selinger said today the province looks favourably on a deal that would see it join the city in subsidizing transit bus charters to transport fans to and from Blue Bomber games.

However, the premier stopped short of committing the province to picking up part of the tab until city council passes a motion formalizing its own commitment to the subsidy.

"We’re a partner with the City of Winnipeg in providing public transit. We think it’s an important resource to allow people to move in this city," Selinger said today.

"So we’ll be certainly interested to see what the decision of city council is when they finally bring this recommendation all the way through their process."

Selinger said the provincial government is "very open" to such an arrangement.

"We want to see city council bring it through as a resolution and pass it. We deal with final decisions of city council. We think it’s a good idea," he said today.

Asked if the province wasn’t leery about offering another subsidy to the Bombers, Selinger said he regarded the proposed deal as a transit issue.

"This is a transit story right now. It’s about moving people in Winnipeg to a major venue at a time when there’s a lot of traffic congestion in that corridor," he said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:13 PM CDT: Adds comment from Bomber CEO Wade Miller and Premier Greg Selinger.

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