U.S. recession puts deal in doubt

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

David Asper's plan to build a new stadium in the southern part of the city is having about as much success as a typical drive by the Winnipeg Blue Bomber offence.

A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Winnipeg Sun that Asper will not meet an agreed upon deadline to retain the lease commitments he needs at the current Polo Park site.

Those commitments, many of which Asper hoped would come from large U.S. retailers, are vital to funding the stadium project at the University of Manitoba. It's believed, however, the struggling U.S. economy has led to limited success.

A deadline of the end of the month is contained in the deal Asper signed with the football club, an agreement that will turn the team over to Asper after more than 75 years of community ownership.

The source says Asper has asked the board for an extension, probably around six months, and he'll likely get it.

Asper stopped short of saying he's asked for more time.

"The impact of the U.S. recession has certainly resulted in discussions about how to proceed," Asper said last night. "It's challenging, on the one hand. But out of that I believe we'll be able to disclose some positive news, as well."

Board chairman Ken Hildahl wouldn't comment on the matter, citing confidentiality agreements, although he did acknowledge the Bomber board met late last week.

It's not clear what, if any, stadium plan exists should Asper's fail, nor is it clear how long the board is prepared to hitch its wagon to his project.

Asper's plan called for a $140-million development at the U of M, including upgrades to the existing university stadium and other athletic facilities.

The CanWest Global executive previously said the plan may have to be scaled back somewhat, should his project at Polo Park not take off as he'd envisioned.

paul.friesen@sunmedia,ca


Videos

Photos