Friday, April 2, 2010
The talk of the town: A new football stadium will be built in Winnipeg. Construction will start this summer and will be done by year 2012. The price tag is $137.5M. It’ll be built by a private company owned by a prominent Winnipeg businessman, David Asper. It's disheartening to know that the province will lend $90M to Asper just to fast-track the construction of the stadium amidst of the projected $1.4B budget deficit over 4 years.
The loan will be paid back by year 2016 and if Asper successfully met the deadline, he'll own the Blue Bombers team. If not, Asper will not gain ownership of the team and the government will pay its own debt. Yes, the Manitoba Province (or should I say the taxpayers) will pay its own debt. Here's the quote from the freshman premier, Greg Selinger: "If Asper fails to pay off the $90 million, the football club will remain community owned and the loan will be paid back by the province and city."
With all due respect to Selinger, I find his statement not only discombobulating but quite absurd also. So if a borrower failed to pay his debt, the lender will pay the money back to himself? Hmm..., I don’t know if I’m missing something from his statement but clearly, this is a win-win situation for Asper and the hard working taxpayers are left with no choice.
When Rosann Wowchuk tabled the province budget for 2010, she projected a $1.4B deficit over 4 years. Some belt-tightening measures are freezing some private sectors wages, selective tax increases, hikes in users fees just to name a few. The federal government even scrapped the Home Renovation Tax Credit which was a big help not only to the homeowners but to the economy as well. Moreover, the provincial government allowed raising university and college tuition fees which will add more financial burden to the students.
I hope the government will be more prudent in allocating public funds. For sure the stadium will promote tourism in Winnipeg but I strongly feel it’s untimely to build a new stadium and there are more urgent infrastructure out there that need to be prioritize.