Published on April 23, 2008 12:01 AM by dbo.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ letter of intent with David Asper to turn over ownership of the franchise in exchange for a $65 million stadium/commercial investment and arranging $80 million in public funding for the Asper stadium plan has not progressed as planned. Asper stated March 29 that because of delays in arranging public financing having the stadium ready for the 2009 season did not look possible. Asper hoped to start construction this spring to have the stadium ready for next season’s opener. The slow political process has delayed the completion of the project until 2010 at the earliest but the team requires shovels in the ground in the next 90 days to achieve that date. The delays may have also increased the cost of the stadium by $20 million, but that number is disputed.
This means the Bombers will be in the current facility, Canad Inns Stadium (formerly Winnipeg Stadium) for another two seasons. Bomber management has concerns over the club’s ability to turn a profit in the current facility with three consecutive years of losses, not counting Grey Cup host profits, with on-field success. The complexities of negotiating with two level of governments for funding of a public stadium to host a private franchise is difficult. The Blue Bombers’ lack of some formal commitment for funding from the Manitoba and Canadian governments prior to selecting a stadium proposal has hurt their schedule. Right now the governments have no urgency to come to an agreement and commit the funds necessary to see the project go forward. If Asper’s time runs out, the club may be forced to Plan B, the revitalization of the existing stadium, to quickly create new revenue streams if public funding looks unlikely to come through.
Just down the road in Saskatchewan there has been a lot of talk on new stadium plans in both Regina and Saskatoon, but no serious prospects for funding. Pragmatically, the Roughrider ball club in conjunction with the City of Regina is moving forward with plans to improve and renovate their current stadium.