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This article was published 18/8/2010 (3919 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The canopy that was supposed to cover 80 per cent of the stands at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new stadium is the only design component that could be dropped when the final cost of the stadium becomes clear next month.
But that potential change project developer Creswin Properties says is being considered would be significant enough to lead area councillor Justin Swandel and likely others on city council to vote against a revised stadium design, should it come to a vote in late September.
Creswin is in the midst of issuing the final tenders required for the construction of a new Canadian Football League stadium to be built on the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus. The 33,000-seat stadium planned for the northwest corner of Chancellor Matheson Road and University Crescent originally came with a $115-million price tag.
Under an agreement signed with its partners -- the city, province, football club and university -- Creswin is responsible for cost overruns. But late last month, the David Asper-led company engaged in talks with those partners about changing the design of the building, as construction inflation could push the final price tag as high as $139 million.
All of the parties decided to proceed with construction until the results of the final tenders are known in September.
On Wednesday, Creswin president Dan Edwards said the only stadium component that could wind up on the table is the canopy, which was originally billed as a means of protecting most fans from rain and snow. Edwards now describes the canopy as more of an architectural feature.
"The main amenities for the fan experience are the enhanced legroom, washrooms and concessions," he said, adding the stadium's eight-metre-deep bowl, wrap-around concourse, electronics and other design elements are also not up for grabs.
"We are in the final stages of the tendering process and once we have those numbers in hand, we will sit down with our partners and finalize the stadium design."
The results of the final tenders are expected by Sept. 15, Edwards said. It's possible the canopy will remain part of the design.
Spokespeople for the city and province say they intend to see the final numbers before they make any decisions.
But a stadium without a canopy would almost certainly face a new vote at city council, possibly on Sept. 22, the final council meeting before for the Oct. 27 civic election.
No canopy means no new stadium, said St. Norbert Coun. Swandel, who represents the U of M and the surrounding residential neighbourhoods.
"It's an important part of the project. It has to do with the noise attenuation and it's part of building a decent facility," Swandel said of the canopy. "I wouldn't support the stadium unless it's a first-class project and to me, taking the coverage away would mean it's not first class."
The city's end of the stadium deal includes an agreement to sell Creswin the existing Canad Inns Stadium site at Polo Park to allow the developer to build a retail project called The Elms.
The province is contributing $90 million up front, under a deal that could see Creswin assume control of the Winnipeg Football Club if it pays back $75 million of the provincial loan by 2015, using revenues from The Elms. If Creswin does not build the mall, the football club will remain a non-profit organization and the province will recoup the loan by collecting new property taxes from whatever other project winds up on the Canad Inns Stadium site. Right now, the Winnipeg Football Club does not pay property taxes on the Polo Park property, which it leases from the city for $1.
Swandel said he believes it would be nice if the province would pick up any additional stadium-building costs, but said "there are other ways to skin that cat" without elaborating about what those options may be.
Some form of solution is expected in September, but city and provincial officials remain tight-lipped about their contingency plans.