Canadian Football League

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Red River Exhibition Association (RREA), Canad Inns and the Board of Directors of the Winnipeg Football Club (WFP), are moving forward with a $250,000 feasibility study to examine the viability of their plan to build a new destination complex.

It’s the first step towards a new 200,000 sq. ft. exhibition facility, a 250 room hotel and 40,000 sq. ft. water park, and a 30,000 seat climate-enhanced and expandable football stadium. The group will now tender the study to select consultants, with the analysis expected to be complete by the spring or summer of 2005.

Paul Robson, CEO of the RREA says the site for the proposed destination complex would be “unique in North America” and would be located on the 450-acre property known as Red River Exhibition Park, adjacent to Portage Ave., near the perimeter. It is owned and operated by the RREA, a non-profit community organization.”

“We have been looking to build a new exhibition facility for some time,” Robson said. “The idea to broaden our proposal by adding a hotel and water park belongs to Leo Ledohowski of Canad Inns. Adding a new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers completes our project and gives us a world-class complex that would be a spectacular addition to our community . . . we’ve been quite excited just thinking about the possibilities,” he said.


As the CEO of Canad Inns, Ledohowski said many talks have been held about the proposal. “We have been discussing ideas for as long as three years, but recently brought all three levels of government (federal, provincial and city) up to speed with our proposal and they have all encouraged us to proceed,” he said.

“The potential benefits for our city and our province are substantial, including new jobs, tourism and economic development, Ledohowski said. “The combination of the existing programming and the components of this proposal, creates a synergy for a unique “destination” that should prove to be viable and sustainable. In addition, we have the space to accommodate our current vision, and to enhance and grow that vision to include other significant attractions,” Ledohowski said.

From a business case scenario, the local entrepreneur and hotelier is confident that his proposed investment is sound and provides the appropriate mix to sustain a significant aquatic centre that would be accessible to the general public.

Gene Dunn, Chairperson of the football club said a new facility is something his Board of Directors has talked about for some time. “We view this as a chance to investigate what could be a tremendous opportunity, and we are very pleased to be partnering with another successful non-profit community organization, and with a private sector business that has been recognized as one of the top 21 best managed companies in Canada. Being part of a multi-use facility with strong local partners could be a win-win for all of us,” he said.

Dunn, who is also the CEO of Monarch Industries, another member of the top 21 best-managed companies in the country, said the football clubs vision “is to build a new home for the team and our fans, that is the best in the CFL.”

“We have the best fans in the league and they deserve no less than a first class stadium. We have an obligation to plan for the future and ensure our facilities keep pace and even exceed our competition,” Dunn said.

Funding for the feasibility study will be split equally between the Canada-Manitoba Economic Partnership Agreement (50%) and the three partners (50%). Once the feasibility study has been completed, it will be forwarded to the proponents to determine next steps.

The study will examine the business plans of the project proposal and each proponent, and provide a complete analysis of the market, the proposed operation and its financial feasibility.

“We know this is an ambitious undertaking, but the time is right for a big league idea, and we believe we have one,” Robson says. “We recognize, however, that long-term sustainability and economic viability is absolutely essential to our overall success and we are hopeful the feasibility study will substantiate our proposal so that we can move forward,” Robson says.