No hope

According to information released at  a press conference last week in Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers will need close to $4 million a year to pay down the $85 million plus interest the club has agreed to take as their portion the new $190 million stadium. The stadium is already under construction at the University of Manitoba. It will take 44 years to pay back the $85 million share at an interest rate of 4.65 per cent.
The team says there will be four revenue streams: increased ticket sales, corporate suites and parking revenue; naming rights; a facility fee of $6 a ticket and an entertainment tax of 10 per cent on each ticket sold. I’m not sure what is the difference between a facility fee and a 10 per cent entertainment tax but I guess that’s splitting hairs
The Bombers will own a one-third share of the new stadium for their portion of the construction cost.
The $190 million deal is good news for the City of Winnipeg. They get a new stadium and are only on the hook for about six per cent of the cost. The Bombers are on the hook for $85 million and the province for the rest of the deal.
There’s a number of problems with this deal. While it’s good deal for the city, it isn’t a good deal for the province. Provincial taxpayers are on the hook for most of the money, perhaps nearly all of it, if the Blue Bombers can’t meet their payments. And it’s hard to believe that a football club that hasn’t won a Grey Cup championship in a generation and hasn’t consistently made big profits will ever be able to generate that kind of positive cash flow. The province of Manitoba could very well be tagged with the whole deal.
The second problem is that 60 per cent of Manitoba’s taxpayers live in Winnipeg, so it isn’t really a good deal for city taxpayers either. What these dreaming bureaucrats forget is that there is only one taxpayer.
Like I said a few weeks ago, hang onto your wallets.
I love football, in fact played it for three years in high school. I watch some of the Bombers’ games on TV maybe and usually watch the Grey Cup game. I have never been to a Bombers’ game. At the level of ticket prices they are going to be charging, I may never ever get to a game.
The months and years to come may prove me wrong but we have been lied to by the provincial government. They try to tell us that renovating the old stadium would cost over $50 million. If that were true, then it would be pouring good money after bad. Agreed? But there are fairly substantial opinions out there that it would only cost $14 million to renovate the Canad Inns Stadium.
The other problem is that there have been several significant offers to build the stadium with substantial chunks of private money, a much preferred path. Those all fell away as time marched on. It’s too bad. To have only taxpayers money in this deal is a recipe for disaster.
One can only hope for two things. One, that all the real estate deals, the taxes, the ticket sales, etc. generate the dollars needed. The second hope is that that we as taxpayers have built Winnipeg a ballpark, an arena, a human rights museum and now a stadium, that future dollars will be directed to clean water, health care and education on our First Nations and remote communities.
It has to be pretty hard for our rural and remote area NDP MLAs to go home and tell some sick kid’s parents that they might be able to have clean water in a decade or so but we have to pay for a stadium first. It’s surprising that some NDP MLAs get home alive from one of their rare visits to these communities. That they can’t bring home better news than “wait 10 years” is a disgrace and a travesty of justice. There’s no hope in Shamattawa (see letter to editor Neepawa Banner, Dec. 24/10) because there’s so few brains in Winnipeg. Not much compassion or vision either.

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