Ernie Karlowsky is tired of sitting in the rain and snow during Winnipeg Blue Bomber home games.

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This article was published 20/5/2010 (4142 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Excavators await the official start of the construction Thursday morning.

WAYNE.GLOWACKI@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Excavators await the official start of the construction Thursday morning.

Ernie Karlowsky is tired of sitting in the rain and snow during Winnipeg Blue Bomber home games.

The season ticket holder of 63 years has sat behind the Bombers' bench since the club's current home opened in 1953. For six years before that, he sat in Osborne Stadium (now the Great-West Life building at Broadway and Osborne Street).

KEN  GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / MAY 20  2010 - 100520 - BRUCE OWEN STORY -   Blue Bomeber Doug Brown  talks to Ernie Karlowsky  grain farmer a 63 year ticket holder  before  ground breaking cerimony connection to  Izzy Asper - New Blue Bomber Stadium ground breaking took place at the UofM -the stadium will feature a world class 33,000 seat , to 40,000 for Grey Cup seating , 80% of fans will be weather protected , 40 private boxes - will be home to the Bombers and UofM Bisons - minor football palyers were invited  with CFL Com. Mark Cohon , Greg Selinger , David Asper , Sam Katz , UofM President David Barnard

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / MAY 20 2010 - 100520 - BRUCE OWEN STORY - Blue Bomeber Doug Brown talks to Ernie Karlowsky grain farmer a 63 year ticket holder before ground breaking cerimony connection to Izzy Asper - New Blue Bomber Stadium ground breaking took place at the UofM -the stadium will feature a world class 33,000 seat , to 40,000 for Grey Cup seating , 80% of fans will be weather protected , 40 private boxes - will be home to the Bombers and UofM Bisons - minor football palyers were invited with CFL Com. Mark Cohon , Greg Selinger , David Asper , Sam Katz , UofM President David Barnard

The 86-year-old Brunkild grain farmer doesn't want to sit in the wet and cold in the new stadium.

So, he showed up Thursday at the University of Manitoba for the sod-turning for the new stadium to find out if he'll stay dry.

"I want to find out if there'll be a roof," Karlowsky said.

When the time was right, Karlowsky asked David Asper that question. Asper's Creswin Properties is building the $115-million stadium. It will seat 33,000 and will be open for the 2012 CFL season.

Asper told him there will not be a full roof, but much of the lower bowl will be covered. The upper bowl of the new stadium will be fully covered.

"You'll be wind-protected because it will be down low," Asper said.

That satisfied Karlowsky. It beats where he sits now when the north wind blows.

At the sod-turning, three big excavators signalled the start of work on the new building.

The project seemed doomed mere weeks ago, mostly because of financial pressures caused by the North American recession, but was revived by Premier Greg Selinger.

The deal involves the provincial government taking out a $90-million loan to finance the bulk of the stadium's construction costs, with $15 million more coming from the football club and $10 million from Creswin Properties. It will be owned by the city and U of M.

Kawlowsky told Asper he crossed paths with the Asper family many years ago.

He told him that when he was getting into farming, he needed a loan to buy machinery. He went to the then-Farm Credit Corp. for help. The lawyer who helped him?

"It was Izzy Asper," Karlowsky said.

"C'mon," replied Asper. "Did he do a good job?"

"Well, I'm still farming," Karlowsky said.

Now it was Asper's turn to talk football.

"Are you fired up about this season?" Asper asked.

"Oh, I sure am," Karlowsky said.

"What do you think about (quarterback Buck) Pierce?" Asper said. "He's the starter."

"Well, I'm quite excited about what's happening," Karlowsky said.

Actual construction on the stadium begins in a few weeks on the site, now a grass field at the corner of Chancellor Matheson Drive and University Crescent. Area residents worried about noise, traffic and parking have filed an appeal of the new stadium's zoning, which was approved several weeks ago.

"I wish everything about the project was easy, but it's not," Asper said.

This weekend, he'll be in Las Vegas at Recon 2010, a four-day trade show for high-end retail real estate developers that attracts 1,800 exhibitors from all over the world. Creswin's goal is to sign up to 40 per cent of retail clients for The Elms, the retail development Creswin wants to build at the old stadium site.

Karlowsky also got to talk football with Selinger.

Both listed off players over the years: Jack Jacobs, Bud Grant, Leo Lewis and Farrell Funston.

"I'm a fan, too," Selinger said.

Karlowsky said he'll continue going to Bomber games for as long as he can.

"When I'm not at the game, I'm on the combine listening to it on the radio," he said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca