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Katz pledges $2M for new rec centre at U of W

Wasylycia-Leis backs project but questions mayor's timing

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/10/2010 (3565 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sam Katz (left), joined by University of Winnipeg student-athletes, announces pledge to help fund a recreation complex, located south of the campus’s Duckworth Centre.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sam Katz (left), joined by University of Winnipeg student-athletes, announces pledge to help fund a recreation complex, located south of the campus’s Duckworth Centre.

Mayor Sam Katz says Winnipeg will kick in $2 million toward a soccer facility at the University of Winnipeg if he's re-elected on Oct. 27.

The downtown university is designing a new recreation facility on the Spence Street Promenade that will include an indoor soccer field, a sports-training facility and possibly a parkade. It will cost about $20 million, university president Lloyd Axworthy told a crowd of students Thursday.

The city will devote $2 million toward the project in the 2011 capital budget, promised Katz, who put on a U of W Wesmen jacket after the announcement.

The new recreation facility will complement the indoor-soccer complex at the University of Manitoba by offering inner-city youth a new athletic venue, Katz said.

A third indoor-soccer venue should also be built in the North End, he added.

Axworthy thanked Katz for his dedication to inner-city recreation but refused to endorse the two-term mayor's re-election bid. "I can't give endorsements to anybody," said Axworthy, a former federal Liberal cabinet minister.

Axworthy said the timing of the announcement -- weeks before the civic election -- was a coincidence. Manitoba's NDP government made a similar pledge to the university during the 2007 provincial election, Axworthy said.

The university president said he was not concerned the $2 million would evaporate if Katz does not win re-election.

Mayoral challenger Wasylycia-Leis, who's neck-and-neck with Katz, said she supports the project even if she is not thrilled with the timing of the announcement.

"It's unfortunate Sam Katz wasn't at the table when the university was looking for money for this project over a year ago. It's too bad it took an election campaign for Sam to step up to the plate," she said in a statement.

"But the project is a great one. I think the university and Lloyd Axworthy have shown tremendous leadership on increasing recreation options in our inner city, and this project will have my full support as mayor."

The new facility would rise alongside Spence Street between the Duckworth Centre and the new bus loop near Portage Avenue, Axworthy said. It will require federal and private-sector funding along with the city and provincial cash.

Axworthy said the project would be self-financing and will have no impact on U of W's ongoing operations. Axworthy has faced criticism for expanding the university campus while the institution suffers from a revenue crunch.

The announcement means there are three recreation facilities planned for downtown: the Youth for Christ centre on Higgins Avenue, Sport Manitoba's fieldhouse on Pacific Avenue and the new U of W's Spence Street centre.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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