On the cheap?

David Asper's stadium plan sounds awfully ambitious for the price tag. (QMI Agency)

David Asper's stadium plan sounds awfully ambitious for the price tag. (QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Overshadowed by all the talk about whether or not David Asper should get a $90-million loan from taxpayers, there’s a nagging question I keep hearing.

What are we going to get for $115 million?

That’s the cost of the new home for the Blue Bombers. Never mind the $137.5 million “project.” That includes $22.5 million in non-related fitness facilities at the U of M.

The two aren’t connected. Different buildings, altogether.

So for $115 million, Asper is going to build a “state-of-the-art” facility?

I can’t figure out how that’s possible, when I look at what’s happening elsewhere.

You’ve all heard the Saskatchewan comparison by now, where they’re weighing the possibility of a covered stadium worth at least $386 million.

How can you build an outdoor one the same size (33,000 seats) for less than one-third the cost?

How about what they’re talking about in Hamilton, where $102 million is supposed to get a 15,000-seat venue for the 2012 Pan American Games. Surely, building something double the size would add more than $13 million.

The Hamilton planners have also looked at a 25,000-seat facility for $152 million. Again, the numbers don’t jive with the Asper plan.

In Edmonton they’re talking about spending $112 million on renovations to Commonwealth.

And we’re going to build a whole stadium for virtually the same price.

What are we really going to get?

Well, we can already toss those nifty artist’s renderings into the trash.

Those dramatic steel beams rising over the field, for instance, have long since hit the cutting floor.

We know this because Asper admitted as much at the news conference announcing his new funding deal. Something about the cost of steel these days.

No, he didn’t mention it publicly, and he had no problem trotting out those same drawings that still showed the original artist’s “conception”. I guess he wanted to keep the optics as positive as possible.

Or maybe he simply couldn’t afford to update the drawings, being stuck in that financial stalemate he talked about, the “chicken-and-egg” predicament of having no lease commitments at his Polo Park retail site because he didn’t have a firm startup date.

We’re promised new plans within a week or two, and I can hardly wait to see what the real stadium will look like.

Then again, maybe the window dressing will be pretty good, and the surprises will come once you’ve walked through the doors.

I may be wrong. Heck, I hope I’m wrong.

But I have this nagging feeling there’s another shoe or two to drop.

Will there really be a Bomber Walk of Fame, and interactive exhibitions? Decent training facilities for the Bombers and Bisons?

Will the concourses really be covered, will 80% of the seats really be rain-proof and will the whole place really be protected from the wind?

Will the “state-of-the-art private media facilities” really be that, or consist of a couple of cubby holes and a broken down Underwood?

What about the two giant video screens and modern sound system. Might we have to settle for a few 20-inch RCAs and guy with a bullhorn?

“This project has been designed from the ground up according to our needs,” Asper said in an e-mail Thursday. “And has been costed accordingly.”

The first item on Asper’s media handout, under the heading Premium Year-Round, Multi-Use Stadium, was this: 33,000 spacious seats with cup holders.

Are you sure you can keep the cup holders, David?

Because if you can really build what you’re saying for $115 million, you need to hire yourself out as a stadium consultant.

I can think of some people in Regina, Hamilton and Edmonton, at least, who just may be interested.


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