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Evil Dr. Len
12-21-2004, 10:28 AM
New stadium planned
Partly covered facility would include water park and hotel

Tue Dec 21 2004

By David O'Brien and Aldo Santin



THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers and a major hotel chain will unveil an ambitious plan today that could see a partially enclosed stadium attached to a new hotel and indoor water park built on land west of the city.
The football club, Canad Inns and the Red River Exhibition Association are launching a study on the feasibility of building a major sports and entertainment complex.

It would be built on land owned by the Red River Ex on the west side of the Perimeter Highway near the Assiniboia Downs racetrack.

"The study will allow us to have a peek into the future to determine what is possible and what are the options," said Gene Dunn, chairman of the board of directors of the football club.

Dunn said the existing 29,500-seat stadium near Polo Park Shopping Centre is 50 years old and showing its age, but the feasibility study will also look at the possibility of renovation instead of relocation.

A source involved in the project said a proposed design for the complex would create space beneath the viewing stands for indoor events. That space would be the enclosed portion of the stadium, he explained.

"The playing field itself would be largely protected, but not covered over," the source said, adding the concept will be understood better when an architect's rendering is released today.

The proposed complex would be located next to Assiniboia Downs.

Dunn declined to discuss details, except to say the city doesn't need a bigger stadium, but one that can be expanded.

He said it costs $65 to $70 a seat to add 20,000 seats to the stadium for Grey Cup games.

Paul Robson, CEO and president of the Red River Exhibition Association, said an entertainment and sports complex would help fulfil the group's goal of becoming an all-season destination. Robson said the association has more than 150 hectares of undeveloped land and "we want to put it to the best possible use."

He said the Ex's contribution to the hotel/stadium project would be the land.

If a stadium and hotel are built, it would help the Ex hold large outdoor exhibitions, including agricultural fairs, he said.

The Calgary Saddledome is located near fairgrounds that are used to stage the Calgary Stampede.

"People in Winnipeg ask why we need fairgrounds," Robson said. "They don't ask that question in Calgary."

Robson said he expects the study to be completed within four to five months.

Dunn said the Bombers have been inspired by the success of CanWest Global Park and the new MTS Centre.

"We look at the wonderful new ball park downtown and the wonderful new arena," Dunn said. "We would like to deliver a wonderful game-day experience for our fans just like the ball park and new arena do."

The CFL's Toronto Argonauts announced in October that it will build a 25,000-seat, open-air football stadium for an estimated $70 million. That stadium, which will have about 36 private boxes, will open in 2006. It will be built at York University, which is contributing $15 million. The Ontario and federal governments will contribute a combined $43 million. The team owners will provide the remaining $12 million, plus cover any cost overruns. Grand Forks built the Alerus Centre -- a multi-use facility that includes a convention centre, indoor football stadium and arena seating for hockey, basketball and concerts -- for $100 million. It opened in 2001. The Alerus Centre can seat 22,000 for hockey but just 13,500 for football.

The FargoDome in Fargo, N.D., was built 12 years ago at a cost of $20 million. Also a multi-use facility, the FargoDome has maximum seating of 27,000. One of its primary tenants is the North Dakota State University Bisons football team.

Coun. Peter De Smedt, whose St. Charles ward encompasses the site, said the Ex needs an all-weather facility to enhance its offerings, but added he doesn't know if circumstances justify a large-scale, covered football stadium.

De Smedt said he was concerned that the proposed project could undermine the viability of the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the new MTS Centre.

"We want to grow the city but not at the expense of undermining what we're trying to do downtown and the new arena," De Smedt said. "I would hope the feasibility study would look at that."

If the deal goes ahead, that would open up the current 26-acre Winnipeg Stadium site for a potential lucrative retail development. It's located in the middle of the city's hottest retail area.

Real estate broker Peter Kaufmann said recent land sales in the vicinity put the price of commercial property at $750,000 an acre. Kaufmann said it wouldn't be unreasonable for the stadium site to fetch between $800,000 and $1 million an acre -- putting a possible price tag at between $21 million and $26 million.

Kaufmann said Toronto development firm Cadillac-Fairview, which owns the nearby Polo Park Shopping Centre and just bought the old Winnipeg Arena site, would be eager to buy the stadium land to prevent its larger tenants from being lured away to a power centre that could be developed there.

Real estate developer Sandy Shindleman, whose firm Shindico represented Cadillac-Fairview's purchase of the Winnipeg Arena, said the stadium property would attract the highest price for retail development. "At 26 acres, it could be developed as a power node," Shindleman said, adding retail development could take the shape of a single, larger complex or a series of smaller buildings located close to each other.

Shindleman said interest from developers and retailers would be extremely high for the site.

Coun. Harvey Smith, whose Daniel McIntyre ward encompasses the existing stadium site, said he'd be opposed to the land being sold for further retail.

"All that would do is bring more traffic to the area and the roads can't handle that," Smith said.

Smith said he'd prefer the stadium be maintained as an athletic field for amateur and school sports, or as an alternative he'd like to see it developed for residential use.

Smith said he didn't like the secretive manner the city employed to sell the Winnipeg Arena, adding he hoped a more transparent process would be taken in determining the future of the stadium.

The stadium land is owned by the city but the stadium facility had been managed by Winnipeg Enterprises Corp. until recently, when it turned management of the facility over to the Winnipeg Football Club. If the Blue Bombers leave, the city would retain ownership of the site.

There were no school or municipal taxes paid on the 26-acre site but that would change if the area was sold to a private owner and the property developer for retail or other uses.

Winnipeg Stadium opened on Aug. 14, 1953. It was later expanded and more seats were added, but fans also began grumbling that the facility was uncomfortable and antiquated. Several years ago, the stadium was renamed Canad Inns Stadium after the hotel signed a deal giving it naming and advertising rights.

Canad Inns is Manitoba's largest hotel chain with seven hotels in Winnipeg and one in Portage la Prairie. Two new properties will be built in Brandon and Grand Forks, N.D., next year.


dave.o'brien@freepress.mb.ca

GeeBrr
12-21-2004, 04:22 PM
Beautiful facility if and when it gets done

Opus
12-21-2004, 05:27 PM
Could be great......if it happens....

Esks4ever
12-21-2004, 08:22 PM
lucky them.. if the team is playing crap during the game , fans can just go to the waterpark :)

Muley69
12-22-2004, 09:34 AM
How DARE the Bombers take away the thunder of the Riders this close to Christmas.

For shame.

esks4life
12-22-2004, 11:13 AM
How can they afford it? Wasnt this team just on the rocks a couple years ago?

Opus
12-22-2004, 01:29 PM
How can they afford it? Wasnt this team just on the rocks a couple years ago?I don't think much or any money will come directly from the Bombers, but more from Canad Inns and other corporate sources, then of course from the municipal/provincial/and federal government....

GITC
12-22-2004, 01:53 PM
How DARE the Bombers take away the thunder of the Riders this close to Christmas.

For shame.
Take away the thunder? :confused:

The Riders projects are a go and tangible results will be seen before the start of next season.

The Bombers "thunder" was the announcement of a feasbility study that will take upwards of 6 months. Even at that they need to figure out where the extra tens of millions of dollars are going to come from to pay for it. It'll be a good long while before you can look for the guy with the shovel to turn any sod on this project.

Besides, the Riders have provided their fans with a couple of other early Christmas presents in the re-signings that were recently announced so there's room to share the stage, if only a small part of it, with the Winnipeggers. :D

Opus
12-22-2004, 03:22 PM
Take away the thunder? :confused:

The Riders projects are a go and tangible results will be seen before the start of next season.

The Bombers "thunder" was the announcement of a feasbility study that will take upwards of 6 months. Even at that they need to figure out where the extra tens of millions of dollars are going to come from to pay for it. It'll be a good long while before you can look for the guy with the shovel to turn any sod on this project.

Besides, the Riders have provided their fans with a couple of other early Christmas presents in the re-signings that were recently announced so there's room to share the stage, if only a small part of it, with the Winnipeggers. :D:lol: Muley was making fun of some rider fans on 13thman who got upset when the Esks announced Higgins resigning during GC week.....that's all...

GITC
12-22-2004, 06:25 PM
:lol: Muley was making fun of some rider fans on 13thman who got upset when the Esks announced Higgins resigning during GC week.....that's all...
Help me out on that one. Why would Rider fans be upset that Higgins "resigned"?


edit: Oh, because it was during the Grand National Drunk media blackout of anything non-Grey Cup?

Joepritch2
12-22-2004, 11:06 PM
Yeah, that be's the one.