Province of Manitoba proposes new financial agreement for IG Field

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Manitoba government is proposing a new financial agreement between the province, Triple B Stadium Inc., and the Winnipeg Football Club to fund IG Field.

“The arrangement originally put in place by the former government was poorly designed and exposes all parties involved to an unacceptable level of risk,” said Finance Minister Scott Fielding in a press release. “IG Field is a valuable community asset and it needs to be protected. This new agreement will give the users of IG Field the security they need while reducing the financial risk to Manitoba taxpayers.”

The provincial government approved two loans totalling $160 million to Triple B Stadium Inc. — a corporation consisting of the University of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Football Club — for the construction of the facility in 2011.

$85 million was to be repaid by 2058 from revenue generated by the Winnipeg Football Club, though an addition loan of up to $35 million was issued in 2019. A further $75 million was repayable over 25 years through the redevelopment of the land formerly occupied by Canad Inns Stadium.

To date, the Winnipeg Football Club and Triple B Stadium Inc. have complied with all financial obligations under the existing agreement. A recent review from the provincial comptroller suggested that the current agreement is unsustainable, however, which was the catalyst for this new proposal.

Under the new agreement, a capital account of $10 million from the province would be established for the funding of ongoing repairs to IG Field. The Winnipeg Football Club would be responsible for managing the facility and keeping it in a reasonable state of repair.

The province claims this new arrangement will make the financing of IG Field “more transparent and sustainable for taxpayers and the Winnipeg Football Club.”

The City of Winnipeg is being asked to modify the legal obligations of Triple B Stadium Inc. so the entertainment funding taxes and facility fees on tickets sold can be applied for purposes other than the construction loan-related payments. The city is also asked to agree that, going forward, the entertainment taxes and facility fees charged by the Winnipeg Football Club on tickets to events can be retained by the Winnipeg Football Club for, among other things, IG Field capital fund contributions and stadium operations.

A spokesperson for Brian Bowman, the mayor of Winnipeg, offered support for the new proposal in a statement to CTV News.

“Having previously advocated for changes to Triple B, the Mayor believes this is a step in the right direction and he looks forward to seeing a report from the City’s public service so he can continue to protect taxpayers while supporting our Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.”

IG Field has a capacity of just under 33,000 and is the home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, Manitoba Bisons of U Sports, Winnipeg Rifles of the CJFL, and Valour FC of the CPL.

The facility was initially expected to open in 2012 but construction delays forced it to open one year later. It has since hosted the 2015 Grey Cup, a number of matches from the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and concerts featuring artists such as Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, and Beyoncé.