Ground broken on new Bombers stadium
Published Thursday, May 20, 2010 6:01PM CST
Officials held a groundbreaking event Thursday to mark the impending start of construction on the new Blue Bombers stadium at the University of Manitoba.
Representatives of the university and the CFL, along with Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and businessman David Asper were on hand for the announcement.
The new $115 million Blue Bombers stadium will have an inflatable bubble roof for winter months and 33,000 seats, officials announced Thursday.
When the dome is open, 80 per cent of the seats will have protection from the weather.
The stadium's capacity will be able to be increased to 40,000 if Winnipeg hosts the Grey Cup, officials said.
CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon said that Winnipeg will host the Grey Cup at some point, once the stadium is built.
"We'll probably make an announcement in a few years, but it's definitely within the cycle that we have with other teams, and sooner rather than later," Cohon said.
As well as being used by the Bombers, the facility will be used by the University of Manitoba's Bisons football team.
Officials have slated the stadium to open for the 2012 season. While the groundbreaking event was held Thursday, actual construction isn't slated to get underway until June.
There has already been talk of delays in the construction, and not everyone is happy that the project is about to get started.
Barbara Metrycki, one of two neighbours appealing construction of the stadium, said she is "disgusted" about how the project was handled.
"How are we going to access emergency services on game day? What do we do about parking? What do we do about vandalism? What do we do about rowdyism?" Metrycki said.
Another potential roadblock in the way of the stadium is the strike by United Association local 254, which represents plumbers and pipefitters.
The businessman who worked out a deal to finance the stadium, David Asper of Creswin Properties, said he hopes the strike won't delay construction.
Asper said the excavation process is about to begin and he hopes the strike will be resolved by the time the project is ready for plumbers and pipefitters.
Part of the financing Asper arranged to build the stadium was a $75 million loan from the provincial government that he plans to repay with the profits from a shopping centre called The Elms.
On Thursday, Asper said he will be going to a real estate conference in Las Vegas to recruit U.S. stores for The Elms.
However, Asper would not reveal which stores are being considered for the shopping centre, saying only that he's competing with other Canadian cities.
Under the terms of his deal with the province, if Creswin Properties can't pay back the loan with profits from The Elms, the shopping centre's property taxes will be used to repay the loan instead.
Mantioba Premier Greg Selinger didn't offer any guarantees the loan would be repaid.
"We have to wait and see how the future unfolds but it's a well structured arrangement," Selinger said.
If Creswin Properties cannot repay the loan by a 2016 deadline, the stadium will remain publicly owned, according to the current deal.
However, Asper said Thursday that there is a provision in the contract that allows for a review of the terms in 2016 if there's a default on the loan.
- with a report from CTV's Laura Lowe