Don't bother rushing into new Bombers stadium

A view of Investors Group Field, the future home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, taken in early...

A view of Investors Group Field, the future home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, taken in early March. (bluebombers.com)

Paul Friesen, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:36 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Wondering when you’ll get into those comfy seats at our new stadium, Bomber fans?

Well, I’ve got some bad news for you and your scrunched-up legs.

The $190-million football facility down at the University of Manitoba won’t be anywhere near ready for July 26, as the Bombers had been hoping — and as you’ve probably been suspecting.

In fact, as far behind schedule as the project is, it might not be a bad idea to play another entire season at Polo Park, and christen the new one properly next year.

I had a rep from the construction industry check out a few dozen recent photographs of the project on-line, and his analysis is eye-opening.

I’m guessing Bomber brass has already come to some of the same conclusions, although publicly they haven’t veered from the July 26 date, yet.

That’ll come around May 1, when they provide an update.

Until then, season-ticket and suite holders wondering what the heck’s going on will have to wait.

Or read on.

“I expected to see the envelope at or near completion, with weather dependant finishes well underway,” the industry source said, upon seeing where the construction is at. “They aren’t there, yet.”

In fact, they’re still working on the structure, and have a long way to go before the west side is finished.

Then they’ll begin work on the field.

“They can’t start the field until the re-shore towers for the east roof are removed,” the source said. “And that could take a month or two once they are down. No one can work under the steel being erected.”

The expert was quick to defend Stuart Olsen-Dominion, the company in charge of construction, saying he didn’t know what challenges it has faced.

The Bombers have already acknowledged delays caused by wind, which flies in the face of what’s been the best winter weather for construction anyone can remember.

That said, there are legitimate safety concerns when using cranes in wind.

The purpose of this isn’t to lay blame, anyway. It’s to inform.

Because information has been way too hard to come by, considering this is a taxpayer-funded facility for a community-owned team.

Anyone who’s built a house or even renovated one knows projects almost never get completed on time.

We’re told there’s a guarantee the stadium will at least be on budget, which is more important, so I doubt anyone will be surprised or screaming for heads to roll if it’s behind schedule.

Rumours of how far behind have been flying in the breeze, and that’s what happens when you don’t have enough real information.

The Bombers were obviously far too ambitious in their timelines. And they’ve been far too slow to acknowledge it.

It hasn’t been an auspicious debut for new president/CEO Garth Buchko, who even before he officially took over vowed there wouldn’t be another game played at Polo Park, period.

Slowly, Buchko changed his tune to the one everybody else seemed to hear blowing in the wind.

Rumours have led this story, with the Bombers chasing. That’s never a good thing.

Over the weekend, Mayor Sammy shot his mouth off to a local television station, saying Bomber brass had told him the stadium won’t be ready until Labour Day.

From what I’ve heard, even that’s in doubt.

So do you want to rush in for the last half of the season, dealing with the inevitable bugs that’ll have to be worked out, not to mention the mess caused by the team moving, midseason, which could actually affect its won-loss record?

Or would you prefer a pristine, event-tested new home to look forward to next spring?

I’d prefer the Bombers just get it done right.

And be a lot more forthcoming about it.


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