The New Winnipeg Stadium – The Real Cost to Tax Payers

The Mayor is quoted as saying that for an investment of only 6% of the overall cost of $190 million, Winnipegers are getting a new stadium.

That 6% is made up of 10 million dollars in outright grants from the city, and 1.6 million dollars in new infrastructure requirements at the new stadium site.

That’s 11.6 million dollars.

A further 1.1 million dollars in the form of  ‘in kind’ services for building and development permit fees is thrown in as a freebie.

The Mayor is right.  If the $1.1 million in in-kind services is ignored, the $11.6 million works out to approximately 6 % of the overall 190 million dollar estimated cost of the new stadium.

Now if that were the real cost to Winnipeg tax-payer, that would be a good deal.

However, the Mayor (as he frequently does) is telling only a portion of the story.

The City is on the hook for a further  75- 85  million dollars (depending on which numbers you look at) which will be repaid using tax dollars generated through the Tax Increment Financing scheme once the site of the current Winnipeg Stadium is sold and redeveloped.

Because this is new money,  the mayor has conveniently chosen to ignore it.  If this additional money (cost) is factored into the City’s contribution to the stadium project, the total cost to Winnipeg tax payers is in the range of  87 million dollars.

That ups the City’s percentage contribution to the project from 6% to 46%.

In the words of Brian Kelcey,  a former advisor to Mayor Katz, the mayor and councilors need to remember that:

“Just because it’s new money, doesn’t mean it isn’t real money”

Taking into account the true cost to Winnipeg tax payers, is this still a great deal?

Stadium Funding Debate Sparks “Gun-play”

Who is really being childish here?

In a move described by Councillor Russ Wyatt as “having a gun stuck to your head”, the Mayor attempted to ‘walk’ stadium funding onto the city council agenda.  Such a move requires a suspension of the rules.  Wyatt and five other councillors decided not to simply roll over on the issue and notified the Speaker they would not support a suspension of the rules.

This left the Mayor with two options:  put the issue on the agenda for the next council meeting, or call a special meeting.

Councillor Justin Swandel has characterized the move by Councillor Wyatt and the other councillors as a childish stunt.

This prompts questions:

If the exercise of their rights by councillors is viewed as a stunt, then why not change the rules so that the Mayor and Councillor Swandel can walk anything onto the agenda at any time?

Why do the Mayor and Councillor Swandel view this attempt to promote transparency and accountability for public spending as a negative?

Has the obvious lack of due diligence, cost guesstimates and flawed decision-making not already created a large enough mess?  The big hole in the ground at the University of Manitoba says that it has.

Is it not time that someone actually sat down and gave this entire project some sober second thought without rushing it through?

Some of the techniques being employed by the Mayor are very similar to those used by  scam artists: create a sense of urgency, rush the decision, decide right now because time is of the essence, act right now or the price will go up.   Never mind providing the required information to allow proper study and evaluation – just trust me and you can’t tell anyone else about this.   Sound familiar?  It seems the public was already scammed once on the stadium deal.  Should we throw good money after bad money?

Exercising his rights, the Mayor called a special meeting of City Council (not to be confused with a childish stunt) and pushed stadium funding through.    The mayor and his buddies got their way, just a day late.

Due process must be such a downer – especially for politicians with dictatorial tendencies.