Blue over stadium study

TAMARA KING -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

A self-described longtime Bombers fan is trying to turn the team into a political football of sorts by pushing Winnipeg's mayor Katz and Manitoba's premier to appoint citizen "watchdogs" to the committee looking into a new stadium for Winnipeg's CFL team.

Morris Bay says he plans to lobby both Mayor Sam Katz through his Executive Policy Committee and Premier Gary Doer's cabinet about making the appointments to the stadium subcommittee formed by the Winnipeg Football Club's board of directors.

"I'm certainly alarmed by the Bombers privatizing the process of searching for an alternative. The Bombers are acting in a very secretive arena," says Bay.

With the football team's community ownership structure, Bay said he feels there's been too much secrecy in the stadium discussion. He argues the club will likely approach the three levels of government for funding, so taxpayers should have a stronger voice.

"I'm saying Mr. Premier, it would be a good idea to have someone on the committee, not to spy on the Bombers, but to give some public input," said Bay, a lifelong Winnipegger and the owner of what he described as a "left-wing bookseller."

Ken Hildahl, president of the Board of Directors for the Winnipeg Football Club, said it's too early in the process to involve the public, but they're pledging to include fans and taxpayers once they've settled on a proposal.

"It's more of a planning process right now, which is clearly the job of the Board of Directors. It's really premature. Once we get to that point, there'll be public input," Hildahl said.

The football club's board is looking at three different proposals for a new stadium, Hildahl confirmed. Citing a confidentiality agreement, Hildahl declined to go into further details, but noted it's not clear if public money would go into a revamped facility.

One of the pitches includes media mogul David Asper's pitch to build a $145-million retail and stadium complex at the current Canad Inns Stadium site.

The second proposal comes from hospitality giant Canad Corp. Teaming with Riel Enterprises Corp., a non-profit agency for the St. Boniface area, Canad's development plan could include a stadium for the CFL franchise at the former Canada Packers factory site, south of Marion Street and east of Archibald Street.

The Canad/Riel Enterprises pitch to purchase the site for $1 million is slated to be discussed today at city hall's property committee meeting.

Because of a religious holiday, Katz was unavailable yesterday for comment.

Doer's spokesman didn't return calls for comment.


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