New estimates are pegging the cost of the new Blue Bomber stadium at over $160 million, a significant increase from the $115 million originally announced.
The new stadium is a partnership project between the Blue Bombers, the University of Manitoba, Creswin Properties Ltd., the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba.
University of Manitoba’s director of Public Affairs, John Danakas, said that the university remains positive about the successful relocation of the football stadium from its current home near Polo Park to the U of M’s Fort Garry campus.
The new stadium would come along with an elite training facility primarily for the use of the Blue Bombers and Bison athletes, with a new recreation centre for the campus and neighbouring community.
Danakas maintains that this new recreation centre will come too, saying that the university is hopeful that the details of the financial plans for building the stadium will be finalized and a deal can be reached.
“From the university’s stand point, it is a good idea to have a stadium here. [ . . . ] It will benefit the university [and] the neighboring community because they will have access to improved facilities,” said Danakas.
However, members of Fort Richmond Coalition — a group which represents Fort Richmond residents who live around the site of the new stadium, and are fighting to keep the stadium out of their neighbourhood — are less optimistic.
Jeff Fidyk, president of the coalition, was not surprised to hear that the stadium will need more money than was expected to be completed.
“[ . . . ] I think most reasonable people would get a sense that $115 million to build an entire stadium with world-class features, as [the partners] have referred to them, was kind of dreaming,” said Fidyk.
Fidyk feels that this latest development in the stadium saga reflects the lack of transparency on the behalf of the partners of the project.
Fidyk thinks that the stadium’s problems are a result of poor planning and lack of public engagement, but feels that it isn’t too late to get community involvement and turn the project around so that everyone is
Fidyk also hopes that the deficit is not covered by tax payer’s dollars because, according to him, that would be unacceptable, especially since there are so many things in both the city and the province that deserve higher priority then a stadium.
“We don’t have the money. [ . . . ] We have infrastructure in this city that is crumbling; it’s gridlocked. [ . . . ] There’s just so many other things they could be spending the money on — money they don’t have,” remarked Fidyk.
Fidyk thinks that the current stadium, located in the St. James area, should have simply been revitalized, which he says would have saved money and made more sense.
A spokesperson from the province declined to comment on the recent developments in the stadium’s budget.
“There is nothing to say right now because the numbers are being
analyzed,” explained Jay Branch, director of cabinet communications for the province.
Creswin Properties also declined to comment on the cost to complete the stadium.
Calls to the Mayor’s office were not returned by the time the Manitoban went to print.