New digs for Bombers

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Football Club has unanimously agreed to a letter of intent with David Asper on a new stadium proposal, which would effectively end 77 years of community ownership of the Blue Bombers.

Asper must now acquire $40 million from both the federal and provincial governments to put towards a new $120-million facility. If the media mogul can secure that funding and build a new stadium, he said he would also assume control of the team.

Asper is willing to put $40 million towards the stadium and another $25 million towards commercial development on the existing Polo Park site. The retail portion of the proposal would generate revenue to help Asper operate the Bombers.

"It's a very exciting time. We think we can create for the community what the baseball park (CanWest Global) created and what MTS Centre, along the same partnership model, has created for Winnipeg, and to become a beacon for a revived and rejuvenated Blue Bombers and for the Canadian Football League," he said yesterday during a media conference.

"So we're looking forward to it. There's a lot of work left to do, but it's very gratifying to be in a position to do it."

The team chose Asper's Creswin Properties Ltd. as its lone negotiating partner on May 1 and Thursday night's unanimous vote concluded six weeks of talks.

It appears the ownership details -- believed to be the biggest hurdle going into the talks -- were ironed out but WFC chairman Ken Hildahl cautioned that a final deal has not been done.

"The final deal won't get voted on until the whole package is before the board," he said.

"What we've done is agreed to take it to the next step. It's far from a done deal."

Lawyers, accountants and politicians will get to work on the funding details. No timeline has been set for those discussions, but Asper plans to make some calls next week.

Asper said if the rest of the negotiations go as planned he will wind up being the sole owner of the team.


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