Asper's stadium deal--a Mad Hatter's delight. Plus a big bouquet to CTV News
The saga of the new Winnipeg stadium is getting more surreal by the day.
Failed businessman David Asper appeared on CTV television Monday boasting," We are building a football stadium as designed."
Who's 'we', Kemo Sabe?
Asper doesn't have the money to build a doll house.
The University of Manitoba, which is sitting on a bridge-financing loan from the province, can only afford to build three-quarters of the proposed stadium. (70 percent, actually.)
Sam Katz, the re-elected Mayor of the City of Winnipeg, campaigned for two months on a promise to bring the deal back to council if Asper reneged on covering cost overruns. Instead, his first days back at work are spent in backroom meetings to save a deal that hasn't been approved by council.
And unelected Premier Greg Selinger is preparing to spend another minimum of $45 million toward a new stadium without the consent of the Legislature.
Literally the day before Asper announced that the cost of his proposed stadium has ballooned from $115 million to $160 million (and climbing), a contract was signed for piling.
The University? Did they know that the cost of the project was now way, way more than the money they have to pay for it?
Creswin? Did Asper commit the province into building his stadium before telling his "partners" what the true cost is shaping up to be? Needless to say, keeping things going benefits Asper since he's making money on the construction end.
Why isn't anyone suspicious about the numbers being tossed around so freely?
Creswin gets an untendered contract, digs a hole, and Presto Chango the cost zooms into the stratosphere. Do you think we could have gotten a more accurate sense of the cost from someone else?
And where do all these numbers come from?
Apparently, from Asper's company.
Do you trust the guy who's going to milk you for millions or do you get a second estimate?
And what's the true cost of a new stadium going to be? The estimated pricetag for a new stadium contemplated for Regina is $430 million. So how is Winnipeg going to build one for less than half?
Or is this all a scam because none of the politicians wants to admit that the true cost is going to be $300 million or $400 million and change---until it's too late.
(We have the answer, of course. Tie the stadium in with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. While David Asper says construction costs in Winnipeg went up 30 percent in the past year, his sister Gail Asper says construction costs for the museum haven't budged. If they had, then the museum would cost another $30 million or so, on top of the $35-45 million shortfall they're already facing. You don't think she's hiding that fact from us, do you?)
The stadium deal appears to have been deliberately designed to be as confusing as possible.
The official government news release announcing the bridge financing deal doesn't say who is actually receiving the money. So, of course, it was assumed that the loan would go to David Asper. Or to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who would funnel it to David Asper.
Except that the loan was actually to the University of Manitoba. In order to take ownership of the football club, Asper has to repay $75 million of the loan--- not to the government, and not to the football club, but to the university.
Will he get a tax deduction for giving money to the university on top of the government subsidy he's getting for the stadium?
Will the university sign the cheque over to the government of the day, or will the government just reduce its funding to the university by an equivalent amount?
Or neither, because four years from now the news media will have no interest in the details?
The Winnipeg Free Press writes today:
"Originally, Creswin was supposed to sign the construction deal with the Winnipeg Football Club. But the contract, signed on July 30, wound up being between Creswin and B&G Stadium Ltd., a non-profit entity created by the city and the University of Manitoba to own the future stadium, club spokesman Darren Cameron said in a statement."
So the province, which is putting up all the money to build the stadium, won't own the stadium. And the city, which isn't putting up any money, is a co-owner of the stadium. And guess who gets to pay the bills? Uh huh, the owners.
So now we're on the hook for running a stadium on behalf of the would-be private owner of the Blue Bombers, David Asper.
Can it be more convoluted?
Sit tight, the insanity has just begun.
The Asper deal is entirely in the hands of unelected Premier Greg Selinger, since he's the only one who can promise the tens of millions of more dollars needed for the new stadium project. He'll just borrow the money and hide it in the annual half-billion dollar deficits he's creating for years into the future.
So a government dedicated to social justice is borrowing money to give to a millionaire so he can achieve his pet project of owning a football team. Did we or did we not mention how surreal this has become?
Selinger excuses his subsidy for the rich by chanting the magic word "investment" as often as possible.
* All spending by the NDP is "investment", not spending.
* All projects are "investments".
* Deficits for "investments" are good.
* Since big investments are good, then bigger deficits are also good. Or gooder.
Lost in the shuffle is any debate of competing "investments."
Jenny Motkaluk, the defeated candidate for city council in Mynarski ward, saw an investment which should have been embraced with relish by a government that wraps itself in the cloak of social justice.
Although crime is a big issue in the North End, the usual response from the authorities is a dismissive crack about how "we can't have a cop on every block." Motkaluk, however, asked the big question---why not?
After talking with police, she estimated it would cost about $10 million to literally have a cop on every block in the poorest sections of the North End where crime breeds easiest. That estimate is every bit as accurate as anything that's come out of David Asper's mouth.
So the $160 million that Selinger wants to give to David Asper's vision of Winnipeg could provide a crime-free environment for North End families for SIXTEEN YEARS. Now that's an investment!
Only Selinger's NDP thinks giving money to millionaires is better.
Tommy Douglas wouldn't recognize what's become of his party.
And just for the record, CTV News wiped the floor with the competition Monday night over the police shooting at a car thief on Portage Avenue.
They had all the details you needed to understand what happened. They interviewed the woman who spotted her stolen car and called police. They had eyewitnesses who heard the police warn the car thief they would shoot if he didn't get out of the car and surrender. And above all they had a graphic showing the stolen car boxed in at the traffic light, how the police approached him, how the driver drove right at the officers, and how the stolen car wound up on top of another parked car.
In short, they had everything the other stations didn't have.