Stadium dream soon reality?
By: Bruce Owen of the Winnipeg Free Press
Updated: June 20 at 06:28 AM CDT
The new home for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium will not necessarily be at Polo Park, the Free Press has learned.
Other possible locations -- including the parking lots south of the Winnipeg Convention Centre as well as Point Douglas -- are now being looked at as a way to make Canwest executive David Asper's dream a reality.
The last-minute change in the game plan pitched by Asper comes as sources say an announcement involving the government funding is expected soon.
Asper's proposal has always targeted a site next to the existing Canad Inn Stadium near Polo Park for a new state-of-the art facility, which would be joined by a retail development.
Asper was spotted at the Manitoba legislature Thursday, coming out of a private meeting with Premier Gary Doer and Mayor Sam Katz.
Asper, who's pushed for a new stadium for more than a year, declined to comment on the latest developments.
"All I can tell you is that I just keep slugging along trying to get the deal done," he said.
However, the fact Asper is preparing to kick his smoking habit is one of the clearest signs an announcement on a new stadium is just around the corner.
"He says he's going to miss his cigarettes this summer, which means things are close," said one insider.
Bombers president and chief executive officer Lyle Bauer, a cancer survivor, has for a while been harping on Asper to quit smoking.
In reply, Asper told Bauer he'll quit when the stadium deal is done.
The stumbling block all along on the new stadium has been federal funding. But that hurdle appears to have been recently cleared as there are indications Asper has secured a federal commitment for the cash he needs. It's possible a shovel could be in the ground this year to see the stadium ready for the 2010 Canadian Football League season.
Asper's initial vision laid out to fans, taxpayers and politicians in bold blueprints, called for a $120-million stadium to be funded with $40 million from his own funds, $40 million by the province and $40 million by Ottawa, with the city throwing in the land and other amenities.
Asper would also spend a further $25 million on surrounding retail development.
In return, he'd take over ownership of the team.
However, rising construction costs have pushed that initial price tag much higher.
Asper will give fans a chance to experience the comfortable seating he wants for the new stadium in a special "Getting it Done" construction zone for this season's June 27 home opener against the Toronto Argonauts.