Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Artist conception of new Winnipeg Stadium.
Winnipeg Stadium location at the University of Manitoba.
It seems likely that there isn't a place in the city where the stadium could be built without complaint. Some are opposed in general to the building since it uses taxpayer money. Some would probably be opposed in principle even if it is done with private money. Some are opposed only because it is in their neighbourhood.
My personal view is that the city needs facilities to host sporting and cultural events.
Some people are ideologically opposed on both sides of the political spectrum. The one side of the spectrum believes that not one red penny of taxpayer money should be spent for the simple reason that it is taxpayer money and that private interests should step up. The other side believes that not one red penny of taxpayer money should be spent for the simple reason that it is taxpayer money and it should be used for social uses such as reducing poverty.
Neither side of the spectrum that holds these views will ever be happy. Taxpayer money should be spent wisely and the thinking should always be what the net benefit to the community will be. Both the poverty groups and the taxpayer groups might not be interested in that type of thinking.
The thinking that is most discouraging is the "Not In My Back Yard" NIMBY thinking. I realize that there are legitimate questions about parking and the type of facility built but there are some people who are opposed for only reason: it is in their neighbourhood.
The University of Manitoba is a legitimate location for a new stadium. It serves both the professional and amateur aspects of what such a facility should do for a community. Using taxpayer money is a legitimate way of serving the community in terms of facilities that will have broad use. Despite what taxpayer groups say, there are few businesses that can build such a large building without help. Few examples exist in North America of a totally funded private arena and stadium in the last couple of decades. If the city followed taxpayer group advice, Winnipeg would not have stadium, arena or convention centre. I think it is safe to say those buildings have earned back their money over the years and that everyone in the city has benefited.
I support a new stadium but the questions of cost, design, planning all seem to be in flux even as ground is being broken for construction. This isn't really acceptable and the sooner things are finalized, the better.
The government and private interests should fully disclose the merits of the project and reveal how they will ensure the project meets requirements of limiting noise to the sight itself, that a well defined parking and transportation plan is in place and lastly, that the costs will be well managed now and into the future.
Nothing will anger people more if the project is not what people were told about up front and costs more than what was said.