Bombers stadium based on $90M loan

Proposed illustration of a new football stadium. (HANDOUT)

Proposed illustration of a new football stadium. (HANDOUT)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:20 PM ET

David Asper is borrowing up to $90 million from the taxpayer to turn his vision for a new stadium into reality.

The provincial government will loan the money as bridge financing in order to get shovels into the ground as early as this May.

After an economic downturn and several other obstacles to the proposed stadium, Premier Greg Selinger, Mayor Sam Katz and David Asper joined to discuss the new facility to be built at the University of Manitoba Wednesday morning.

The stadium is worth $115 million, with an additional $22 million for the U of M's Wellness Centre.

It's the same facility Asper promised to build a year ago with $100 million of his own money, using proceeds from from turning the current Polo Park stadium site into an upscale outdoor shopping mall.

However, Asper has been slow in getting lease commitments for that project, due, he says, to the world economic downturn.

Governments and the Winnipeg Football Club initially gave Asper a one-year extension past last fall's deadline. Now both sides have agreed to foot the bill to get construction started this spring.

The province will supply the $90-million loan, with the Bombers promising to repay up to $15 million through the sale of naming rights and profits from hosting a future Grey Cup. Asper is committed to repaying the rest.

He won't take over ownership of the team until the loan is repaid. He has until 2016 to do so.

Premier Greg Selinger says the cost of maintaining the existing stadium, pegged at $52 million over the next several years, created a sense of urgency for a new facility.

The government said the current stadium may also have only lasted another 10 years.

The new stadium will seat 33,000 people and be expandable to seat up to 40,000 to host Grey Cup games. It will have a soft dome that could cover the field area, making it usable year-round.

The province also has a deal with the CFL to host a Grey Cup at the new stadium within five years.

The premier and mayor pledged that the new facility will be a comfortable, state of the art building. Katz promised the seats will have enough leg room for people taller than himself.


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