The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Plans unveiled for new 30,000-seat football stadium at University of Manitoba

  • Print

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are on their way to a new stadium and private ownership under media mogul David Asper.

Asper, along with representatives of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, announced a deal Thursday to build a 30,000-seat stadium by the summer of 2011 on the University of Manitoba campus in the city's south end. It will replace the 55-year-old Canad Inns stadium west of downtown.

Related Items

Poll

Do you support David Asper's plan for a new stadium?

View Results

The deal will see the community-owned club taken over by Asper's real estate company, Creswin Properties Limited - a move that Asper admits has some fans worried.

"Their concern is that somehow their asset will be violated and I'm not in it do to that," said Asper, who is also executive vice-president of CanWest Global Communications Corp. "I'm in it to turn it into something bigger and better.

"When I've gone back and forth with fans who are critical of that, I've said to them 'Give me a chance, let me prove myself ... cause I think you're going to like what you're going to see'."

For the Bombers' board, which guided the club out of debt over the past decade with help from the Manitoba government, the transition to private ownership is the logical next step. The agreement requires the football club to remain in Winnipeg "in perpetuity" and reverts ownership to a community board in the event of financial failure.

"We as a board are very satisfied that the financial mechanisms are in place to ensure that professional football in Winnipeg ... will continue," said Ken Hildahl, chairman of the Bombers board of directors.

Asper has been pitching proposals for a new stadium since 2007. His first two ideas - a facility on the existing site and one in a crowded area near downtown - were rejected largely because they required most of the funding to come from various governments.

The new agreement is a complex financial arrangement that will see Asper pay "fair market value" for the current stadium site, which lies in the heart of a major shopping area, and use it for retail development. In exchange, Asper will contribute $100 million to the stadium, which will also be used for amateur sports, and gain ownership of the team.

The stadium will be expandable to 45,000 seats for major events such as the Grey Cup, and will also feature a bubble dome capable of covering the field during winter months for community soccer and other activities.

Asper's pitch has gone over well with many football fans, who bemoan the current aging stadium that is renowned for its stiff north winds. The new facility will be more of a bowl structure and offer overhead weather protection for 80 per cent of the seats.

But critics remain. Some fans want a covered stadium that could offer more comfort when the temperature starts dipping below 0 C in October.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation questioned whether Asper will be getting a sweetheart deal on the current site.

"The only way fair market value can be determined is through an open public auction," spokesman Colin Craig said.

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

  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up

View More Gallery Photos

Ads by Google