City hall has rejected a request from the Winnipeg Football Club for discounted transit services to Investors Group Field this season.
In an April report to council, the city was prepared to reduce the cost of regular Winnipeg Transit service to and from Blue Bomber games, concerts and other events at the city's year-old football stadium by approximately $650,000 to $750,000.
On Tuesday morning, the city issued an email message to the football club, withdrawing that proposal. A statement was issued to media shortly afterward.
"We carefully reviewed the request received from the WFC regarding Transit services for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 2014 season and could not grant their request for a discount from 2013 rates," Deepak Joshi, the city's acting chief administrative officer, said in the statement.
This appears to violate a tentative agreement the football team had with city officials. The football club initially contacted the city in December in an attempt to see how game-day costs could be reduce, Winnipeg football club president and CEO Wade Miller said Tuesday.
The team was attempting to reduce what it paid Winnipeg its charter rates for use of transit buses to games and events. In 2013, the city charged the football club $1.1 million, or about $11 per person, to transport fans to and from events at Investors Group Field. The city intended to increase that rate to $1.25 million, or about $12.50 per person, this year.
The offer issued by the city in April would have reduced all services to $6 per fan, rather than a flat fee. Two regular transit fares are $5.10.
Miller said he has no idea why the city changed its mind about the April offer. He said he has had no communication in recent weeks from Joshi and only a short conversation with Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz.
"This was their proposal. It was not our proposal," Miller said. "We worked through many discussions with them to try to figure out what the best method was so our fans and concert-goers were taken care of properly."
Miller said the city used to cover the cost of transporting fans on regular transit routes on event days at Canad Inns Stadium, the team's former home at Polo Park. The deal in place at Investors Group Field last year saw the club assume responsibility for both those routes and and park-and-ride services.
He said the club may procure its own park-and-ride services this year and continue to hire Winnipeg Transit to transport fans along regular routes.
The Winnipeg Football Club was counting on reduced transit charges to help increase its profits. The club is slated to begin making Investors Group Field construction-loan repayments of $4.5 million per year following this season.
The club's net profit in 2012 was $2.1 million.
Finance chairman Russ Wyatt refused to explain why the city had withdrawn its discount offer to the Bombers, and referred all questions to Mayor Sam Katz.
But Katz would not make himself available to reporters during the council luncheon break.