Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stadium to get transit discount

City, province expected to team up to cover reduced rate for charters

  • Print
Shuttling fans to Blue Bombers games in transit buses cost the team more than $1 million in 2013.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Shuttling fans to Blue Bombers games in transit buses cost the team more than $1 million in 2013. Photo Store

City hall is planning to offer a steep discount to the Winnipeg Football Club for the fees charged for its charter bus service for events at the IGF stadium.

The discounted offer came after six months of negotiations, when team officials told the city they were not prepared to pay the full charter transit fees, which sources said cost the team $1.226 million in 2013.

Information provided to councillors at a private seminar earlier this week outlined the city's offer to the Blue Bombers, which includes a discount of 42.3 per cent off Transit's charter rate in 2014, rising to 44.7 per cent in 2015.

The discount will cost the city $750,000 for 2014 and $950,000 in 2015.

The discount will only be offered if the province agrees to cover 50 per cent of it. A provincial government spokesman said the city's formal request to share the costs was received late Tuesday afternoon, adding the government accepted the terms of the deal "enthusiastically."

Wade Miller, Blue Bombers team president and CEO, said he spent the past six months negotiating the deal with city hall, adding the new rate is good for the team, its fans and the city.

Miller said he understood the deal will be presented to council at today's meeting.

'It would be nice if we could get a resolution to this'

-- Wade Miller

"We can't sustain paying $1.1 million to $1.3 million (for transit services) every year," Miller said. "So we negotiated an agreement with the City of Winnipeg."

Miller said the team expects to save $650,000 to $750,000 in 2014.

He said the deal involves paying Winnipeg Transit $6 per rider, rather than a flat fee, which last year was $125,000 per event.

"It's now the end of April, and we've been working on this for six months," Miller said. "It would be nice if we could get a resolution to this."

Briefing notes supplied to councillors at the private meeting stated Transit incurs additional costs for stadium events, about $4 per rider, to cover additional mechanics and supervisors, and extra late-night shifts required to clean and fuel the buses for the next day's regular route service.

The briefing notes said those additional charges will now be carried by taxpayers.

Miller defended the new deal, explaining the regular cash fare for transit is $2.55, adding the Bombers will still be paying more, on a round-trip-basis, for its fans than that charged to regular transit riders.

"This is the agreement I negotiated with the city," Miller said. "If councillors don't want to pass it, then they don't have to pass it.

"We have an alternative solution we'll use if we need to."

Miller said there was no truth to reports the team planned to replace transit buses with school buses driven by volunteer drivers, but he would not elaborate on the alternative solution.

Mayor Sam Katz did not respond to a request for an interview on the proposed deal with the football team.

"We have no alternative but to make the team this offer," said Coun. Ross Eadie, one of a handful of councillors who attended the private meeting along with Katz.

Eadie (Mynarski) said councillors were told the Bombers were unwilling to raise ticket prices to cover the difference between the regular charter rate and the proposed discount, adding that would likely amount to $2 to $4 per ticket for each event.

Councillors were told the team threatened to hire school buses operated by volunteer drivers if the transit charge wasn't lowered, Eadie said.

"That would be a disaster for everyone," he said.

Eadie said the province has little option but to accept the deal, adding the football team can't repay the province if it's not making enough money from events.

"I know some people will say we shouldn't be offering a subsidy to the professional football team, but transit is already subsidized," Eadie said.

Eadie said without transit services, traffic on game day and for concerts would be chaotic, resulting in unimaginable delays and likely increasing the risk of collisions.

"Providing transit is the better solution and, realistically, the smart thing to do," Eadie said.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Would you go to Bomber games if they didn't pay for your bus ride? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2014 A3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press
  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Ads by Google