Thursday, July 21, 2011

CJOB Will Prevail

It is being reported that TSN has completed an agreement for Winnipeg Jets broadcasts.

This would include TV and radio broadcasts and push CJOB for only the second time in its history out Winnipeg Jets broadcasting. Three years after the Jets got into the NHL in 1979, CKY won the broadcast rights and Curt Keilback and Ken (The Friar) Nicolson were allowed to leave from one broadcaster to go the other. They would make the return trip a number of years later when CJOB regained the broadcast rights. I still can't remember the exact dates they moved back and forth nor can I remember about the TV broadcasting. I re-call the CKY years for local Jets broadcasts but the WHA had CKND broadcasts. Any help here would be appreciated.

CJOB has been the broadcaster of the Manitoba Moose the last 15 years. No one has done hockey more than they over the last years. If CFRW had not converted over sports radio broadcasting in the last year, they might have been a shoe in.

However, Sports Radio 1290 with the backing of Bell and the TSN sport network had the one-two punch of TV and radio broadcasts under one roof that CJOB just didn't have.

CJOB's parent company Corus Entertainment does not have a national sports broadcaster for TV. Well, at least nothing that does hockey broadcasts. For Manitoba Moose broadcasts, this was not a big impediment but in today's NHL where every game is televised, it is.

Unlike in the past when CJOB wrested the broadcasts back to their station, it seems the loss of hockey will be permanent unless Corus acquires a sports broadcaster or if some sort of partnership is formed with another TV network.

I have no idea how long the Blue Bombers radio contract is tied up but CJOB is no doubt going to find they face the same problem of a radio/TV connection. TSN already does CFL football. Is it really a stretch to think that 1290 Sports Radio might eventually buy the radio rights too?

CJOB will prevail. However, the loss of hockey broadcasts is huge. One wonders if this the event that knocks the station out of first place in the radio ratings.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tuxedo Business Park

Tuxedo Business Park Present and Future Plans

I have worked in the Tuxedo Business Park since 2008. Last year was the first years new construction didn't happen save for the Tim Horton's. I have found it a great place to work although (and this is a big although) there are no sidewalks or bikepaths to get there. I drive to work every day. There is a bus loop into the business park but the buses don't come odd hours that I work.

Lost in all the discussion about Kenaston traffic and the coming of Ikea and development of the Kapyong Barracks is how ever greater business development and housing is happening yearly along the corridor.

Each year I have worked at my company, there has been new building in the business park. And now the Free Press reports that a large new buildings is going up. The Composites Innovation Centre is relocating from the University of Manitoba to Tuxedo. Leaping from 6000 square feet to 21,000 square feet, it represents a major investment in the community. The developer Terracon will use CIC to anchor the 45,000 square foot new building. I have little doubt they will be fully leased in the next months.

A further 24,000 square foot business park office complex is in the works for next year. The big surprise is the possible addition of a hotel right next to the IKEA site and in front of the cement plant.

Yes, a hotel along Kenaston. Who'd thunk? With IKEA right next door, a couple of hotels could do okay.

It ain't going to be easy squeezing everyone down Commerce Drive. My guess is that three lanes all the way down to Kenaston Common and turning lanes and better traffic signals will needed in short order.

The front of the Tuxedo Business Park Includes GoodLife Fitness and Tim Horton's.

The future hotel site:

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Friday, July 15, 2011

IKEA Expands

The Biggest IKEA in the World in Sweden.

The biggest IKEA in the world is in Sweden. Naturally. It is where the company started. At 594,000 square feet, the store south of Stockholm is massive.

The Free Press reported that IKEA has submitted a revised building footprint for their Kenaston and Sterling Lyon location.

Once planned as a massive 350,000 square foot monstrosity, it will now be larger by 12% and come in at 395,000 square feet. According to IKEA, the expansion will accommodate further warehouse space. This will make it the second largest in Canada as it will be overshadowed by the re-building of Ottawa's store to 430,000 square feet.

The endless construction by Fairweather Properties prepping the roads around the area is enough to make your teeth grate. Many times it is simply dangerous in there moving around. At $26.5 million and with three traffic lights, the cash for IKEA is being fronted by the company but they will be eventually get back all of it minus $4.5 million.

Hopefully, someone inspects the roads after to avoid the Cinema City zoning fiasco.

There are a lot more development announcements happening on Kenaston. Traffic outcry is only going to increase.

Still, I regards the IKEA expansion as good. I don't blame them for the traffic woes. Quite honestly, there isn't a place in the province where someone would not have a traffic concern. Had they gone downtown there would have been complains, Headingley complaints, Regent complaints.

Hope that someone is not asleep at the wheel when it comes to explosion of growth coming on Kenaston. Welcome IKEA but will the city let you down about your decision by bottle-necking the area 24 hours a day?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grant Park Shopping Mall 2

Old commercial for Grant Park Shopping Mall.

I wrote back several weeks that something was afoot at Grant Park Shopping Mall.

I speculated initially some of the store closures and moves might be as a result of Target taking over Zellers spot.

The mall made some changes when Walmart took over in 1994 with McNally Robinson and the movie theatres all expanding. Other major anchors moved or were renovated such as the Liquor Mart and Safeway.

It was easy to see say that a few changes might be coming as a result of the Zellers re-branding. Alas though, it the Liquor Mart that is responsible for some of the shuffling going on.

Once the flagship of the Manitoba Liquor Mart chain of stores, the Grant Park location although largest is now second highest in volume after the Dakota location.

The Liquor Mart plans a 1500 square renovation which will see 6 stores moved from the western to central area of the mall. This will result in some closures of some month to month renters. The overall change should help Grant Park reclaim unchallenged leadership as flagship store.

It is heady times for the Liquor Marts. They are are expanding in two locations in the south now after chasing Salisbury House out of the Tuxedo Park Mall. In addition, Manitoba government changes to the liquor laws will make it possible for kiosks of the Liquor Mart to open in stores. This is quite the expansion of the MLCC's reach.

It is an election year and for the NDP government, it is probably looking to kill two birds with one stone: Expand a unionized workplace to further areas and to loosen liquor laws. The greater discussion of liquor laws in general and whether to allow other private vendors in or to sell off or end the Liquor Mart remains to be had.

The government is fairly risk adverse and probably hopes this will be enough to get kudos.

The Liquor Marts do a good job at what they do. However, the question has to be asked if a government needs to own the retailer anymore. Further, a discussion of liquor laws on a wider scale should be undertaken to provide responsible Manitobans with choices and to ensure that issues related to crime, zoning, noise, addiction, FASD, advertising, police enforcement and things as simple as tailgate parties all are discussed.

For Grant Park Shopping Centre, the trick will be to try and keep Target in the mall and not have them decamp like Walmart did before. To do this, it may be necessary for the store to push westward even more so that the location can be larger. However, even that might not suffice given the size of a Super Target.

Lots of changes in the face of Canadian retailing none more-so than how Target transforms the landscape. The importance of smaller regional malls in adapting will be a large factor. Even smaller malls such as the Charleswood Mall opted to ditch the enclosed route and go for box strip mall to great success. Grant Park could find this is the way to go but the presence of so many offices in the mall as well as the movie theatres has probably kept them from going forward thus far.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cinema City McGillivray

Cinema City McGillivray

By the way, would you stand at that bus stop in front of the theatre? You'd likely get picked off by a wide vehicle or fall into the ditch behind.

Meadowbank Road. Take a look at the theatre wall behind and the "landscaping" of evergreens between the theatre and back yards of the housing.

Back on June 9, the Assiniboia Community Committee approved a plan for Cinema City McGillivary to reduce the landscape buffer between the theatre from 20 feet to 16 feet. The lowest picture shows the mature evergreens which are the only buffer to the back wall of the theatre complex.

The zoning department enforcement people dropped the ball in 1989 when the theatre was built and instead of a 20 foot buffer there was only a 16 foot buffer. How this can happen is anyone's guess and City Clerk's office merely shrugs their shoulders and says it happened for "reasons unknown."

So why is it important now? Well, the Cinema City McGillivary owners wish to build a large Shopper's Drug Mart west of the theatre and any further development would require the 20 foot buffer required under zoning.

On June 9, the city committee approved a proposal to amend the variance to affirm the actual 16 foot buffer existing on the south side and to also make the setback from that buffer 10 feet instead of 50 feet on the west side. As a sop to the changes which would have cost the developer even more to comply with, a proposal of further landscaping in the parking lot out front was promised.

In case anyone is wondering just how busy that area is, right across from the theatre is Costco.

There is so much clean up left after all the zoning and building changes in 1989 that it defies description. In the last city election many people sang the praises of the work of the late councillor Bill Clement. His service is undeniable but it is also the work of his committee that did not put in service roads or drop the hammer on developers who violated their approved zoning.

There is a mess on Route 90 and a lot of it is in this area. Let's hope that the new councllor and committee won't say for "reasons unknown" that zoning here was laughed at by developers later on.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Return of The Jets

The Golden Jet Bobby Hull

It is heady times in Winnipeg. For years fans have been mocked, teased and dismissed about the Winnipeg Jets ever returning to the city. The NHL returning after fifteen years ago in Phoenix seemed against all odds despite

I have refrained from saying anything in the months prior on the NHL coming back because I believed that the real announcement would only come from one group: The True North ownership.

The last I wrote on this subject was in 2009 when I said:

Winnipeg should be patient. It has an arena, an ownership group and a reputation for hockey. At some point the league might be coming to it because of problems with a franchise.

This is pretty much what happened. Atlanta Thrashers ownership and the NHL just couldn't make inroads in Georgia. Even when the economy was bubbling along in the U.S, Atlanta was a tough sell. It became tougher with a recession.

Meanwhile in Winnipeg, the owners of the Manitoba Moose stuck to their knitting, expressed interest in the NHL but otherwise kept quiet and showed that they had what it took to have an NHL team return. They did this by running a stable, profitable and competitive AHL franchise in one of the most utilized arenas in North America.

Gary Bettman has used Winnipeg for a long time as a hammer on weaker ownership and cities reticent in not offering supports for their NHL team. Phoenix and Atlanta have been the main whipping boys but a few others have also faced the spectre of losing a team. And Winnipeg's name has always been present.

The loss of Winnipeg's NHL was one of a series of blows the city took to its self confidence over a few decades. The city is not out of the woods yet but it has weathered things better, built on a few successes but has had a hard time coalescing things. It is possible that a Blue Bomber victory in the Grey Cup could have been a rallying point for a victory party at Portage and Main. Certainly on the face of it, the Bombers have more fans than the Jets did or do.

However, would a spontaneous pick up game of the 30 on 30 have happened downtown and The Forks. No.

The Jets was about thumbing our nose at the NHL when it started, it was about acceptance when we got in and it was our utter defeat when the team was lost to Phoenix.

The True North people had no real choice when it came to choosing the name Jets again. It has been an open wound for so long and while some said a fresh approach was equally valid, it seemed the wrong step to take in light of the fandom.

I'll be writing more in the next days about the coming changes around the MTS Centre. Some of those changes have been in the works for a while but there is no doubt that the return of the Jets has hastened some of that.

There was criticism of the MTS Centre over the years for a variety of things. Where it was built, how it was financed and what it would do for the downtown have always been an issue. I was entirely not satisfied with some of the financing of the MTS Centre. I certainly was not very happy with Crocus putting $5 million into the project. It lacked transparency going in and out. However, I never blamed the True North owners for what happened with MTS Centre and actually agreed about it going downtown.

In the end, it seems likely that the work to rehabilitate the Eaton's building would have required even more government help for what seemed an uncertain outcome.

I cannot deny the appeal of having the Jets back. I was brokenhearted when they left and didn't pay nearly as close attention to the NHL when they left. I have been following the Phoenix fiasco for years now but is all always seemed the odds were against us for getting this team or any other back.

I expect that a lot of pride will reside with the team and that with steady hands over years, something might be built that will make it possible for the downtown once again to be filled with celebrations.

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