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Winter stadium bubble deemed impractical

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Artist's depiction of an inflatable bubble over a stadium field. Investors Group Field will not be getting one.

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Artist's depiction of an inflatable bubble over a stadium field. Investors Group Field will not be getting one.

The inflatable bubble once planned for Investors Group Field was scrapped primarily because the winter structure was found impractical, not just in the wake of a request for funds for a north Winnipeg soccer complex.

The original plans for the $204-million new football stadium at the University of Manitoba called for a $2-million inflatable winter bubble. Those plans were scrapped in 2012, although the cancellation was not public until this fall.

On Sept. 30, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger disclosed the province planned to redirect $1.8 million of bubble funding toward an indoor-soccer facility on the north side of Winnipeg. At the time, the premier said there were concerns about practicality, but the main reason for the cancellation was a Winnipeg Soccer Federation request for funding for a 12-month facility.

On Friday, BBB Stadium Inc., the non-profit organization responsible for building the stadium, said the proposed bubble was plagued by technical and operational implications, particularly involving the difficulty removing snow from the structure.

BBB Stadium president Andrew Konowalchuk also said the largest factor in consideration of cancellation of the dome was that it would only be useable for three or four months out of the year, as it would take a month to assemble and disassemble.

"This didn't make any sense when the money allocated to the dome at IGF would be much better spent on a 12-month-of-the-year, permanent complex. This is much better value for the public," Konowalchuk said in a statement.

BBB Stadium wound up purchasing two pieces of equipment for the bubble – a pair of air-handling units, each the size of a shipping container – but has since sold one and is looking to sell the other.

Winnipeg Football Club president Wade Miller said he wasn’t aware of the rationale behind the cancellation, as it predated his arrival with the club.

The Selinger government has been asked to comment.

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