Unwanted rival

Canad Inns CEO Leo Ledohowski announces his proposal for a domed stadium for the Blue Bombers at...

Canad Inns CEO Leo Ledohowski announces his proposal for a domed stadium for the Blue Bombers at the old Canada Packers site on Monday. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

TAMARA KING -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

A proposal to build a domed football stadium doesn't sit well with the head of the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Leo Ledohowski, president and CEO of Winnipeg-based hotel chain Canad Inns, unveiled his $265-million pitch for a domed stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Monday. The stadium would be built alongside a new hotel and waterpark at the old Canada Packers site in St. Boniface.

The proposal is one of three being considered by the football club's board. Media magnate David Asper wants to build a $120-million stadium at the Polo Park site. A third proposal remains a secret.

Klaus Lahr, general manager of the convention centre, is concerned a covered stadium would draw trade shows away from the downtown meeting complex.

"A domed stadium will most certainly compete with the convention centre," he said.

TAXPAYERS AFFECTED

"The trade show business is a very important revenue source. The taxpayers fund the convention centre. If their revenue went down, the taxpayers would pay a larger share."

When the MTS Centre was built, the city and province agreed to a non-competition clause barring them from funding a new similar indoor sports and entertainment venue in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg would have a tough time supporting two facilities that offer similar services like large concerts, said Jim Ludlow, president and CEO of True North Sports and Entertainment, which runs the arena.

"If it was just a sports and entertainment facility masquerading as a football stadium, I think everyone would see that doesn't make any sense for Winnipeg," he said.

Ludlow said he hasn't been formally approached by Ledohowski's group about the hotel chain's stadium plan. From the little information he's seen, Ludlow said he isn't concerned about the proposal.

"But it would concern me if I knew the programming would conflict with what we offer at the MTS Centre," he said.

Unlike the arena, Lahr said there is no similar non-competition clause in place for the convention centre.

Lahr has long pushed for an expansion of the meeting and trade-show complex.

He said it's already booking 350 days a year and increasingly turning away smaller shows when there is no available space.

Lahr said the facility is being reviewed but offered few details.

"We're still in the strategic communication development stage," said Lahr.

Shelley Ostrove, publicist for the recent World of Wheels show that took up two floors at the convention centre, said if the facility had more space organizers could have easily added more vehicles.

"We'd love the extra space," he said.


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