Bombers stadium opener pushed to September
By KIRK PENTON, QMI AGENCY
Investors Group Field won’t be ready until September at the earliest, and the price tag is going up.
The Winnipeg Football Club announced Wednesday their new, $190 million stadium will host its first CFL game on Friday, Sept. 21, against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
If construction goes smoothly, however, the University of Manitoba Bisons could open the facility on Saturday, Sept. 8, versus the Saskatchewan Huskies. The Banjo Bowl, between the Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders, would be played the next day.
The Bombers had hoped to be in their new park for their home opener on July 26. Instead, they will play four or five regular-season games at 59-year-old Canad Inns Stadium. Season ticket holders will get their old seats back and will pay 2011 prices for all games at the Polo Park location.
Meanwhile, the Bombers are spending an additional $3 million from their own cash reserves to pay for upgrades to the video scoreboards, two ribbon boards and concession stands at Investors Group Field. Perhaps it’s an “I’m sorry” to the fans for prematurely jumping the gun on the start date, but no one is about to apologize. Instead, Winnipeg’s mild winter and its accompanying winds are to blame for the construction delay.
Stuart Olson Dominion, the company overseeing the project, was unable to operate its cranes during the winter when winds were greater than 32 km/h. That resulted in 60 lost days of work.
“Safety is my primary responsibility, ensuring that everyone goes home each and every night, and then it’s followed by quality and schedule,” project manager Mike Clynes said.
Winnipeg Football Club COO Jim Bell, who was president and CEO last year, still has no qualms about about proclaiming last year’s East Division final as the last game at Canad Inns Stadium. The project was 9% ahead of schedule on Dec. 1.
“Do I regret it? No. Not at all,” Bell said. “Because at the time, based on the information that we had, we were optimistic that we were going to be in at the beginning of this year.”
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