Toews, Katz cool, but Doer ready to deal

ROCHELLE SQUIRES -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Other infrastructure projects take priority over a new Winnipeg football stadium and proponents shouldn't look to Ottawa for funding, says Treasury Board president Vic Toews.

"There are a lot of other infrastructure programs we are trying to fund, like sewer, water, roads, bridges and, of course, the floodway," Toews said yesterday.

Toews hasn't seen businessman David Asper's proposal for a $120-million stadium, which would need $40 million from Ottawa.

"I'd have to speak to my colleagues in cabinet and with the province and city, but I'm not optimistic about finding money," he said.

Toews is already working with David Asper's sister, Gail, on funding for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Ottawa has earmarked $100 million for capital costs and been asked to cover operating costs.

Premier Gary Doer was more eager than Toews to pull out the chequebook for a football stadium.

"I'm a positive person and take a can-do attitude to projects," said Doer, adding he is excited about the possibility of a new stadium. "Not only is this an exciting plan but a plan that I could explain in terms of revenue to the public."

Asper is also requesting $40 million from the province. He would contribute $40 million and another $25 million for a related retail development.

SUCCESS

Doer said building the MTS Centre with private and public dollars was a success and naysayers should look to that landmark before criticizing the proposal.

Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen shared Doer's enthusiasm for the stadium.

"You don't want to look a $65-million investment in the mouth for too long so I hope it moves forward," he said.

In exchange for his investment, Asper is seeking control of the community-owned team and land under the stadium from the city. But Mayor Sam Katz said the city is unlikely to donate property valued at $15 million.

"I don't think I've seen that happen before. I'm certainly not considering that at this point in time. And I'm not sure that's really needed to make the project go," he said.

He hinted he would consider leasing the Maroons Road site at a nominal rate.


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