The $52.5M stadium lie

TOM BRODBECK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

It turns out the $52.5 million required to bring Canad Inns football stadium into a "safe and functional" state of repair was a lie.

It was a lie first perpetrated by Premier Greg Selinger to set the stage for why taxpayers should build a new football stadium at the U of M for $115 million.

And it was a lie followed up on by others who had a vested interest in having taxpayers build a new facility.

After Selinger ran around telling anyone who would listen that the stadium requires "a minimum" $52.5 million in upgrades just to keep it in a safe state of repair, I asked the city and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the consultant's report that detailed the required upgrades.

I was told by the city the report was commissioned by David Asper's Creswin Properties and by the Bombers.

Despite repeated requests for a copy of the report, Bombers staff refused to release it. It wasn't until weeks later, after all the announcements were made, that they released it to the media last Thursday.

And, as expected, the cost of bringing the stadium into a safe and functional state of repair is nowhere near $52.5 million, according to the report.

It's $14.4 million. And that's in today's dollars, includes all taxes and fees and incorporates a 20% contingency allowance.

The report, penned by Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd., outlines the need to spend $14.4 million over the next two to three years to keep the stadium safe and functional for the next 10 years.

That's about $1.5 million a year in what would be considered normal upgrades to a facility of that size.

The upgrades as outlined in the report include structural repairs to roof areas, stands and amenity space, installation of joint sealant throughout the east side and west side stands to eliminate leakage that causes fan disturbance, and unhealthy concession conditions. It includes handrail safety upgrades and improved site security to minimize vandalism.

An estimated $200,000 would be required for plumbing and ventilation repair and $3.7 million would be needed for electrical repairs including sports lighting and emergency lighting.

Political agenda

The $14.4 million includes $2.2 million to repair roof membranes and another $1.2 million for site repairs, such as parking lot upgrades.

In other words, to keep the stadium as is with all the necessary structural and electrical upgrades, it would cost $14.4 million, not $52.5 million.

The $52.5 million figure includes a whole range of enhancements like 20 new guest suites, renovated washrooms, relocated press facilities, upgrades to seating allowances and enhanced concession areas.

Those discretionary enhancements would cost $26.8 million, but they're not required to keep the stadium safe and functional. They would be designed to improve the fan experience.

The report also speculates that if the stadium were to undergo major renovations by adding luxury boxes, upgraded seating and new food concessions, it's possible there may be a need for building code upgrades. The bill for that "could" be $11 million, but the author of the report is not certain.

What is certain is that the possible code upgrades are tied solely to the proposed enhancements, not to the $14.4 structural upgrades required to eliminate the leaky roof, the pigeons and the plumbing problems.

You can agree or disagree on the need for a new taxpayer-funded football stadium. But we should at least debate the issue on the facts, not the lies politicians like Selinger have been spreading to bolster their political agendas.


Photos