Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/6/2012 (2806 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Forget about seeing Investors Group Field this season, Bomber fans.
The Winnipeg Football Club announced today it will play the entire 2012 home schedule at Canad Inns Stadium, ending months of speculation about when the club was planning to move into the new $190-million facility at the University of Manitoba.
The team is pointing to "weather related delays" as the reason for the decision. Originally, the Bombers were hoping to get into the 33,500-seat stadium for the July 26 home game (the first of the season). The club changed that projection a few weeks ago, aiming to get into the facility in September for the handful of remaining home dates.
Now, the club is scrapping the 2012 season altogether. They won't move into the new stadium until the 2013 season.
The Free Press will live stream team President and CEO Garth Buchko addressing the media this afternoon at 2 p.m. (see below).
Buchko issued a statement today on the matter in a press release:
"It is with great disappointment that we are making this announcement today, however we feel it is in the best interest of our fans, sponsors and entire organization to come to this decision. The reality is that unpredictable weather at a critical stage of construction, has made it difficult to pin down the ultimate completion date.
"Endeavoring to accelerate work to overcome weather disruptions, beyond what is reasonable and safe, will only create further delays along the way, potentially compromising worker safety and the ultimate fan experience.
"To open Investors Group Field prior to a state of total completion would not be fair to our fans as their first experience must be a positive one. The citizens of our city and province have waited a long time for a new stadium and it will be well worth the wait to have it opened properly. This decision will most importantly provide stability and certainty for our loyal and passionate fans, the football team and the entire Blue Bomber organization."
The Bombers admitted in February the new stadium was two months behind its original construction schedule, citing the weather — specifically the wind — as the reason for the delay.
In May, the Bombers announced the team would play at least five games in the soon-to-be-mothballed Canad Inns Stadium after construction delays at Investors Group Field pushed back the opening but did promise a fall opening date.
Later in May, strong winds knocked over a small wall, but Buchko said at the time this wouldn't make a difference to the opening date. Mike Clynes, project director at Stuart Olson Dominion, previously said crews cannot install steel beams when winds are blustery.
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said the city planned for the possibility Canad Inns Stadium may not be vacated until November. The Winnipeg Football Club’s lease entitles the Bombers to continue to use the Polo Park stadium as long as the club needs to do so, Katz reiterated.
The delay will not affect the city, he said, other than it will take longer for property-tax revenue from new developments at the existing stadium site to begin flowing toward the province to help pay back Broadway’s stadium-building loan.
Last week, city officials confirmed the delay will also affect the sale of the existing stadium site and negotiations with at least one developer. Once the Polo Park site is sold, the city will devote $7.5 million of the sale proceeds to the new stadium project.
Katz also said the delay in completing Investors Group Field will not affect him as a season-ticket holder and as a fan.
"When football fans do get there next year and see what’s been done, they’re going to say ‘Wow,’ and they’ll absolutely love it," the mayor said.
"This is the greatest opportunity an individual with my skill set could ever want."
Jan. 28, 2012 — Garth Buchko says windy conditions at the stadium construction site have created a two- to three-week schedule lag. A few days earlier, the Winnipeg Football Club said they had no plans to play at the old stadium in the fall, despite delays.
"We’re currently evaluating. We’ve had some challenges the last few weeks with the heavy rain and the high winds. (An opening in September) will be a challenge, but as I say, we’re looking at that right now," says Rick Graumann, vice president of Stuart Olson Construction,
— Sources: Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Updated on Friday, June 15, 2012 at 11:53 AM CDT: Updated
12:41 PM: corrects typo
3:05 PM: adds photo, adds reaction from mayot