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New Winnipeg stadium?


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Knowing the culture of building projects in Winnipeg, this will probably never happen, and if it did, they probably wouldn't think about soccer, but it might still be worth talking about:

New digs for Blue?

Stadium next to Downs may not be just talk


It's the rumour that won't go away: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in conjunction with the Red River Exhibition, are looking into the feasibility of building a new stadium. Nobody from the football team will confirm it. And all you'll get from Red River Ex boss Paul Robson is, "I won't say anything. You'll have to talk to Lyle."

That would be Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer, who wasn't returning The Sun's calls yesterday.

But we do know this: Bauer met with Robson and Manitoba Jockey Club president Harvey Warner at Assiniboia Downs a couple weeks back. We can only presume he wasn't looking for tips on the horses.

Now, this doesn't come completely out of the blue.

It was nearly a year ago Bauer spoke to The Sun about the community-owned club's future -- a future that included either a major renovation to Winnipeg Stadium or a new facility altogether.

"There's a very nice ball park in CanWest Global, and there's going to be a very nice arena," Bauer said at the time.

"If everybody's moving up into the high-rent district ... we'd probably like to see a few more amenities."

Some 11 months later, it seems the Bombers mean business.

Now that I've been inside the new downtown arena, I can see why.

Comfortable seats, modern washrooms and concessions, revenue-generating luxury suites -- all amenities that local baseball and hockey fans can enjoy. But not football fans.

I guarantee there will be people attending a Moose game this winter who'll have a completely different outlook the next time they visit the Stadium for a Bombers game.

After experiencing the Rink at Eatons, sitting in that cramped Stadium seat, or waiting in a long line to get into that dilapidated washroom or to order the same old Stadium food, will very quickly get old.

Let's face it. If the Winnipeg Arena was worn out, what does that make the Stadium?


Probably the worst football facility in the CFL, that's what.

Sure, the Bombers could try to do what new owner Bob Young did with Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton: spend a million or two to refurbish the place, and squeeze another 10 years out of it.

But that would just be postponing the inevitable, while continuing to turn off fans who'll be getting more and more used to the comforts of the other two pro sports venues in town.

Building a new stadium on land owned by the Ex, next to the Downs, means plenty of parking and good access. Yes, it's a little "out there," but it's only 10 games a year, not 40. And the Polo Park area is getting more and more congested, in case you haven't noticed.

I know what you're thinking: how much would this thing cost, and who'd pay for it?

Well, the Toronto Argonauts are about to build a 25,000-seat facility at a projected cost of $70 million, shared by the feds ($27 million) the province of Ontario ($8 million) and York University ($15 million).

The Bombers, you'd think, would want about 30,000 seats. And plenty of help from the taxpayer.

Their other partner, presumably, would be the Ex, another non-profit agency. Together, they'd use the facility for concerts, trade shows, you name it.

And football fans, the most rabid in this town, would join their baseball and hockey cousins in the 21st century.

The whole thing makes sense, don't you think?

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The Stadium's a dump. Don't know about it being the worst or not but it's a dump no matter what you compare it to. They installed those seats couple years ago and it's more cramped than ever. Spent a couple of millions putting down that AstroTurf Plus crap and what not and all for not. The place is still a dump.

I wonder about a Downs location. City really has grown out towards the SW so The Downs may not be that bad on the face of it but I'd be surprised if a study showed the majority of Bomber ticket holders came from SW Winnipeg. Was always under the impression the bulk of Bomber fans where draw from Old Winnipeg and the east end. Could be wrong, and things change irregardless.

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I wonder which would be a bigger traffic headache: 30,000 Blue fans jamming the Perimeter, or the same number weaving their way through the labyrinth that is the Polo Park area. The good thing about the Downs location is that, for fans in East and North Winnipeg (I'm talking the Kildonans, Maples, Trashcona, etc.) it is probably as fast, if not faster, to get around the city to the Downs as it is to go through the city to the current location. That is my experience riding around in a delivery truck for 3 or 4 summers.

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Winnipeg Stadium is pretty dumpy, but a bit better than Regina's. ;)

A Downs location would be great, sucks for distance, but avoids the congestion thru

Polo Park shopping centre. The new location would be great for soccer if FieldTurf

is adopted and would eliminate the problems with the Winnipeg Soccer Complex. HOw many

seats are they looking at? 30,000?

Maybe they should apply to the CSA to help host the 2007 U20's. Corporate support

may be onside.

And yes Cheeta, even though I also live in the SW, I'd still drive to see football

whether it is the gridiron variety, International soccer, or even our own professional

team (dreaming).

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