Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stadium cost $45 million over budget

Province, city ponder response after Creswin increases estimate

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Stakeholders in the new football stadium project are huddling to decide what to do about a major funding shortage after receiving a report from developer Creswin Properties.

A source inside the project said the stakeholders were given a final price for the proposed stadium and it is above $160 million. That's more than $45-million more than the current funding package put together based on construction costs of $115 million.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers chairman Bill Watchorn confirmed the stakeholders have been briefed by Creswin.

"That's accurate. We're going through the report now," Watchorn said. "We (the Winnipeg Football Club) are analyzing it right now. We received a report from Creswin and it included a final price for the stadium with all the promised amenities, including the roof. That's all I can say for now, other than I believe we're going to have a new stadium."

Mayor Sam Katz said he and Premier Greg Selinger are trying to sit down together and look at the report.

"The premier and I will have a meeting in the next four or five days and look at the details and then make a decision," Katz said. "That's all I'm saying for now."

A request for an interview with Creswin president Dan Edwards was answered by a short statement from the firm's communications staff.

"We have nothing new to report today."

Creswin signed a memo of understanding with the other partners -- the University of Manitoba, the Manitoba government, the city and the Blue Bombers -- to build a stadium for $115 million.

The provincial government agreed to float a bridge-financing package of $90 million to get the project started.

Under that arrangement, Creswin would repay $75 million of the loan in exchange for ownership of the Blue Bombers. The $75 million was to be generated by a retail development on the site of the old stadium at Polo Park.

The football club would pay back the remaining $15 million of the loan. Creswin would contribute an additional $10 million and the province would grant $15-million to the project.

Creswin chairman David Asper has said he is committed to building a stadium for $115 million. Creswin signed a memo of understanding to that effect, but included was an agreement for the real estate firm to pay for any cost overruns.

Asper contends overruns kick in once the final price of the project is determined and he's not responsible for the gap between the original design estimate of $115 million and the final number after all tenders are received.

Asper has said his firm will produce a stadium for $115 million and if the specifics originally presented to the public cost more, then "choices will have to be made."

The stakeholders must now determine their next step -- to increase funding or downgrade stadium specifications to cut almost $50-million in costs out of the project.

Excavation of the stadium site has begun, but no other work is scheduled at this point.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2010 A5

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