The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are getting their new stadium after all, after the Winnipeg city council voted this afternoon to approve the revised deal put forward last week. As the CBC reports, in a story whose lede is alarmingly blunt for those weaned on U.S-style news coverage:
Winnipeg city councillors have voted to spend $12.5 million and forfeit years of property-tax revenue from a prime piece of retail land to build a $190 million football stadium on the University of Manitoba campus. …
The government of Manitoba is putting up the bulk of the capital for the stadium, $85 million of which will be in the form of a loan to the Winnipeg Football Club, which is the managing entity of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The club will have 44 years to repay the money.
When the current stadium site at Polo Park is ultimately redeveloped, money that is collected by the city in property taxes — about $75 million — will be repaid to the province.
In other words, the public is taking on a fair bit of risk, not to mention that those property taxes won’t be available to pay for services to whatever ends up getting built on the current stadium site. (Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett notes that the Bombers will have to generate $4 million a year in new revenues to pay their share of the costs, which is no slam dunk in the CFL. And yes, I know that they don’t have slam dunks in the CFL.) Still, it’s arguably better than the original plan in which the province would either end up losing money or losing ownership of its team. So, one point for Manitoba!