March 31, 2010

Bombers accelerate stadium plan

$137.5 million to be invested, construction slated for this summer; opening 2012 CFL season

WINNIPEG — Premier Greg Selinger and Mayor Sam Katz today joined Ken Hildahl, Chair, Board of Directors of the Winnipeg Football Club, David Asper, Executive Chairman of Creswin Properties Inc. and University of Manitoba President, Dr. David Barnard to announce a plan to accelerate construction of a new community-owned football stadium at the University of Manitoba.

Beginning this summer, Creswin will construct the $115 million facility with an opening in time for the 2012 CFL and Bison football seasons. An additional $22.5 million will be invested in fitness facilities at the University of Manitoba.

The Province will provide bridge financing, which will be fully repaid by Creswin as part of the transfer of team ownership. This financing will be secured through property taxes generated from the new retail development on the site of the existing stadium, subject to City Council approval. The Winnipeg Football Club will support the bridge financing through capital revenue sources at the new stadium such as naming rights and suite licenses. 

The bridge financing plan supports all previous agreements including the Community Interest Agreement (CIA) which guarantees community ownership of the stadium and the team’s home in Winnipeg, in perpetuity, and the Access Procedure Agreement to ensure community and university student use of the new stadium.

New Stadium at U of M

The new stadium is set to be completed in time for the 2012 CFL season.

“This plan provides the foundation that is needed to move this project forward,” said Premier Selinger. “Building the stadium now significantly reduces the long term cost, creates an immediate stimulus for our economy, and provides a lasting asset for the university and the community .”

As originally proposed, the new stadium will include 33,000 seats (expandable to 40,000+), overhead protection for 80% of fans, enhanced concessions and washrooms, 40 private suites, a permanent Hall of Fame and an inflatable bubble for use in winter months.

“Bomber fans have let us know loud and clear that it’s time this project be brought to fruition,” said Mayor Katz.  “I believe this investment will have a major positive impact on our city and this plan provides us with the revenues we need to make it happen.”

“The development of retail on our existing site and our agreement with Creswin Properties will provide the economic engine to sustain the Winnipeg Blue Bombers into the future,” said Ken Hildahl.

“Our mission from day one,” said David Asper, “has been to create a new stadium that deals directly and completely with making it a place wohere the fans can enjoy the games with modern and comfortable amenities. We’ve never wavered from the goal and I’m happy to say that, with today’s announcement, Bomber and Bison fans are going to get what they have long deserved.”

The University of Manitoba also continues with its original plan to construct a new fitness centre on campus, supported by $15 million from the Government of Canada and $5.0 million from the Province.  Subject to City Council approval, the City will provide $2.5 million for the fitness centre, which will be available to students and the general public.

“The new stadium development continues to be an important and exciting development at the University of Manitoba,” said Barnard. “I look forward to being at the opening kick-offs of the first Bison and Bomber games there in 2012.”

The total project at the University of Manitoba will create an estimated 2,425 person-years of employment and $19.6 million in provincial tax revenues from construction. 

“It’s exciting news that all the parties are coming together to build what will become the home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, one of our oldest and proudest franchises,” said CFL Commissioner, Mark Cohon. “The timing is very appropriate. The Bombers are celebrating their 80th anniversary, and the stadium is expected to be ready for 2012, when football fans across Canada will celebrate our 100th Grey Cup game.  This is a display of confidence in the future of our league and the communities in which our teams play.”