The Manitoba government has agreed to guarantee a loan for much-needed repairs to Winnipeg's leaky football stadium, just two years after initial construction at the facility was completed.
The province's premier, Greg Selinger, says the loan will help get Investors Group Field patched up "as soon as possible," though not before it hosts the 103rd Grey Cup next month.
An estimated $35 million in repairs are needed to fix a number of construction problems at Investors Group Field, a 33,500-seat canopied stadium on the University of Manitoba campus in Winnipeg. Cracks in the concrete, inadequate drainage, and poor insulation have forced the province to step in to help with repairs, even as it awaits the result of a lawsuit against the stadium's builder, Stuart Olson, and its architect, Ray Wan.
The lawsuit, launched by an ownership consortium that comprises the City of Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and the university, alleges the facility was designed and built with 42 defects in its construction. The ownership consortium, called Triple B, said in a statement of claim in March, that it has already spent $4.72 million on repairs.
Olson has accused the province of approving the design without regard for such issues, in order to accelerate construction.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
Selinger says he's confident Triple B will be able to pay back the loan it needs to repair the facility, once it gets money through insurance and a potential lawsuit payout.
"It makes sense to provide a loan guarantee to have the cash flow that will allow the stadium to be fixed up as soon as possible," Selinger told reporters on Tuesday. "I'm an optimist that the insurance will do the job."
Selinger added that he's been assured the facility is safe "for all uses, including the Grey Cup."
Brain Pallister, Leader of the Opposition and the Progressive Conservatives in Manitoba, slammed Selinger on Tuesday for the stadium situation. "You can rush a quarterback but you can't rush a construction project, and there seems to be growing evidence that the government did push this forward," Pallister said on Tuesday.
The stadium had initially been slated to open in time for the 2012 CFL season, but construction was repeatedly pushed back.