Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sure it's late, but stadium will be worth the wait

Blue Bombers' new facilty will make province proud

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Forget the winds of delay. Forget the "we'll never play there again" boo-boo. Forget the foolishness of thinking last summer would be our last at the old stadium.

And, forget the fact guys will have to use the troughs at least five more times.

But know this: when Winnipeg's new football stadium is finally complete it will be the best in Canada.

In the end, that's what this is all about.

Whether you get to watch a game there this September or, perish the thought, not until next season, I'm guessing you will be proud of your city, province and football team for having the courage to build it.

No, it won't be Jerryworld in Dallas or even what they're dreaming of building in Regina, but it will be unique, bold and more than serviceable.

Standing on the concourse Wednesday morning as the club announced it was pushing back the official opening until Sept. 21, the half-complete bowl was already impressive.

Will they make this September deadline? Hard to tell but from here it doesn't matter. They've laid out a plan to satisfy ticket buyers and they're doing all they can to meet that date. The Bombers are also covered with a guaranteed maximum price on the stadium and debt repayment coverage so this isn't going to unravel into a financial disaster.


They're gonna be late. They've misspoken a few times on the subject, and yes, they've over-promised and under-delivered. That, however, will change when the stadium does open because it is something to behold and should move this franchise forward to the front of the line in the CFL.

The Blue Bombers will not be responsible for cost overruns and there will be serious dollars spent this summer on overtime as Stuart Olson Dominion tries to hit its completion date of Sept. 1.

"The Bombers are not on the hook. They have a GMP and it's fixed," said stadium project manager Mike Clynes. "I've been authorized to spend what is needed to deliver this project. There will be significant expenditures. It's not about profit anymore but about pride. We're enormously proud of this project and what it will stand for when complete. This will be a monument to marvel at for years to come."

The reason the Bombers were in such a rush to get into this stadium is the revenue it promises to generate. The club has taken on an ambitious chunk of debt in order to get what it wants. With the stadium not opening as planned for the start of this season and as many as five games this summer to be played at the old park, that revenue won't be streaming in as expected.

The club was prudent enough to include a clause in its management agreement for such a possibility. Had the stadium been open on June 1, the Bombers would have begun stadium debt repayment in 2013. However, a delay clause will be triggered and repayment won't begin until 2014.

"This year (2012) will not be as planned," said Blue Bomber board member Bill Watchorn. "For example, we can't put a concert in the old stadium and we can't guarantee a date in the new stadium. So we lose our concert revenues. We also have doubling of costs. So in 2012 we will actually incur an operating loss."

When it's done, Winnipeg -- not Vancouver or Toronto or Montreal -- will have the newest and most modern professional football facility in the country.

Yep, it's gonna be late. But it's gonna be worth it. Twitter: @garylawless

CFL Draft preview C4

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2012 C1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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