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Stadium demolition to get started soon

Will be no dramatic blast like Arena

The slow deconstruction of Canad Inns Stadium should begin during the next 10 days.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

The slow deconstruction of Canad Inns Stadium should begin during the next 10 days.

The end of Canad Inns Stadium is nigh -- for real, this time.

Some time during the next 10 days, demolition crews will begin dismantling the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' former home, which enjoyed a one-year stay of execution due to construction delays at Investors Group Field.

Piece-by-piece deconstruction will begin as soon as the stadium site's new owners, Cadillac Fairview and Shindico Realty, remove all pipes and other connections to water, sewer, gas and electrical utilities.

"Any time you demolish something, there are utility disconnections," Shindico development manager Bob Downs said Wednesday. "We're going through the process of making sure things don't blow up."

Cadillac Fairview and Shindico purchased the site from the City of Winnipeg for $30.25 million. The deal closed April 2, the same day an arsonist set fire to a shed at the southeast corner of the stadium.

The fire did not ease the process of preparing for demolition, as the developers must take account of all the hazardous materials on the property.

They include what Downs described as "low-grade asbestos floor tiles," that must be removed before workers can begin dismantling the structures on the property.

Unlike the Winnipeg Arena, which was demolished with the help of explosives in front of a large crowd of onlookers, Canad Inns Stadium will come apart gradually. There will be no explosions or wrecking balls, both for safety and environmental reasons.

"It's simply going to be taken apart. It's all going to be recycled," said Downs, explaining the intention is to reuse all the steel and grind as much concrete as possible into new construction materials. "It's a very big site being demolished and there's an interest of people to be around there -- and we don't want people to be around there."

While it's unclear how long the demolition will take, the stadium's northwest corner will be the first to be dismantled. The northwest quadrant of the development, called the Plaza at Polo Park, is slated to house Winnipeg's first stand-alone Target store.

The demolition is a positive sign for Winnipeg football fans, as there's no turning back for the Blue Bombers. Players are due to arrive next week at Investors Group Field, where construction is nearing completion.

As of Wednesday, all but a few rows of seats had been installed at the new University of Manitoba facility, said Winnipeg Football Club spokesman Darren Cameron.

Club officials have been told the venue will be ready for a May 26 dry run with a multi-denominational Christian prayer session. Concessions should be installed in time for the first Bombers pre-season home game on June 12, Cameron said.

"We're ready to go," he said.

Bombers' equipment manager Brad Fotty, who worked at Canad Inns Stadium for 23 years, said the commencement of demolition will be a sad day.

"The best thing about that place was how loud it would get. Unless you were on the field, you couldn't appreciate that," Fotty said of the 50-year-old venue. "It served its purpose and its time. We have such a beautiful place to look forward to."

Investors Group Field was built at a cost of $200 million. The Winnipeg Football Club is on the hook for $95 million of the tab. The city and province are covering the remainder through $30 million worth of grants and $75 million worth of new property-tax revenue from the Plaza at Polo Park.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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