David Asper's interest in purchasing a stake in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers likely stems from the hope among many that a new stadium will be built for the club soon, says Mayor Sam Katz.
"I think this is the efforts of the Winnipeg Football Club to get things going for a new stadium," the mayor said. "As you know, they talked about it. And there really isn't any talk about it at any level (of government)."
The Bombers have an ongoing feasibility study looking into a $165-million "destination complex" that would house a new 30,000-seat partially covered stadium along with a hotel and water park on the western edge of the city.
The project would require a blend of private and public dollars, with the club noting that the same was true of both CanWest Global Park, where the Winnipeg Goldeyes play, and the MTS Centre, home of the Manitoba Moose.
At the least, the Bombers would like to see an upgrade to the 53-year-old stadium on Maroons Road.
Katz confirmed he has seen Asper's letter on the proposed ownership shakeup and knows of talks between the media mogul and the Winnipeg Football Club.
However, Katz refused to say much about how Asper's proposal could change the community-owned franchise.
"They all agreed there would be no conversation on this topic until after the Grey Cup," Katz said of the CFL championship game, slated for Nov. 19 in Winnipeg. "There has been some conversation, but I will uphold my responsibility to keep what should be private, private."
Premier Gary Doer was not available for comment yesterday.
The premier's spokesman confirmed the proposal is being reviewed by the province, but no decisions have been made. "The province has the proposal as articulated by Mr. Asper, and we've looked at it, and that's as far as it's gone," said Jonathan Hildebrand.
Hildebrand said ultimately the decision about ownership rests with the football club and its community board.
"This is not a provincial decision," said Hildebrand. "As we go forward with this issue we'll continue to work with the football club itself and be guided by the club's board of directors and take the advice of the broader community."