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Still at Canad Inns in August?

Blue 'Plan B' could see multiple games in old stadium

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/3/2012 (2525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The front office of the Winnipeg Football Club said publicly for the first time Thursday something they had maintained was unthinkable less than two months ago -- the Blue Bombers could be playing at old Canad Inns Stadium deep into the 2012 CFL season due to construction delays on the new stadium at the University of Manitoba.

Bombers CEO Garth Buchko -- who less than two months ago categorically ruled out the Bombers playing anywhere this year other than their new Investors Group Field -- conceded with continuing uncertainty surrounding a completion date on the new stadium, team management has a contingency plan that could see the club playing at Canad Inns Stadium into August.

"We've discussed -- and we think it's prudent -- to have a Plan B if the construction schedule does not meet expectations," Buchko said. "And Plan B is to play one regular-season game -- or multiple games -- at our current Canad Inns Stadium."

After opening the 2012 regular season with four consecutive road games, the Bombers' first home game is scheduled for July 26, followed by three more home dates in succession on Aug. 3, Aug. 16 and Aug. 24.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/3/2012 (2525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

High winds throughout the winter have been the major factor holding back construction of the Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba.

PHOTOS BY BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

High winds throughout the winter have been the major factor holding back construction of the Investors Group Field at the University of Manitoba.

The front office of the Winnipeg Football Club said publicly for the first time Thursday something they had maintained was unthinkable less than two months ago — the Blue Bombers could be playing at old Canad Inns Stadium deep into the 2012 CFL season due to construction delays on the new stadium at the University of Manitoba.

Bombers CEO Garth Buchko — who less than two months ago categorically ruled out the Bombers playing anywhere this year other than their new Investors Group Field — conceded with continuing uncertainty surrounding a completion date on the new stadium, team management has a contingency plan that could see the club playing at Canad Inns Stadium into August.

"We've discussed — and we think it's prudent — to have a Plan B if the construction schedule does not meet expectations," Buchko said. "And Plan B is to play one regular-season game — or multiple games — at our current Canad Inns Stadium."

After opening the 2012 regular season with four consecutive road games, the Bombers' first home game is scheduled for July 26, followed by three more home dates in succession on Aug. 3, Aug. 16 and Aug. 24.

Buchko repeatedly emphasized on Thursday while the club has now for the first time publicly acknowledged the possibility of playing regular-season games at their old Polo Park facility in 2012 — and taken that prospect seriously enough to draft a contingency plan internally — they remain hopeful the only game they will have to play at Canad Inns Stadium this season is a previously announced pre-season game on June 20.

The east-side canopy will be finished this week.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The east-side canopy will be finished this week.

Buchko said planning is proceeding on that basis and will continue to do so until at least May 1, when a major construction overview will take place and at which time the club will finalize their regular-season plans.

"Our plan will always be — and until we hear better closer to the date of May 1 — that we are playing our first regular-season game at Investors Group Field on July 26," said Buchko. "Definitely our desire and plan is to play our first regular-season game at Investors Group Field."

The good news is the Bombers hedged their bet when they shut down Canad Inns Stadium last winter. While the club never intended to use it again, Bombers facility manager Kevin Austin confirmed they still winterized the facility exactly the same way as they always have done in the past, just in case.

Austin said reopening the facility this year — barring something unforeseen — should be no more complicated or costly than it has been in the past.

Buchko said the cost of reopening Canad Inns Stadium this year will be under a half-million dollars and probably closer to "a couple hundred thousand, at most."

While high winds have hampered construction of the new stadium's signature canopies — the east-side canopy will finally be completed this week and construction will begin on the west side next week — the project as originally conceived remains on budget and will not exceed the guaranteed $190-million budget the club has agreed to with the contractor, Buchko said.

"It is 100 per cent guaranteed that we will achieve that budget and there will be no cost overruns," said Buchko.

Buchko did add one small caveat, however. The club has upgraded some amenities during the course of construction — they've added, for instance, a "ribbon board" that will carry advertising and messages — but the Bombers will pay those extra costs directly and exclusively, Buchko said.

 

 

Project manager Ossama AbouZeid said the recent unseasonably warm weather has both helped and hindered the project. He said the warm temperatures have made it easier and more efficient to pour concrete, but the accompanying high winds have caused other delays.

"Construction is funny," said AbouZeid. "Today is sunny and calm so I gain time. Tomorrow is windy so I lose time. But we have progressed on the learning curve. And so while wind will still be a factor in building the west canopy, now that we have gone through this once, hopefully we will be able to expedite the process."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

 

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

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History

Updated on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 4:54 PM CDT: Adds new video.

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