UPDATE: No dome, new location for proposed Regina stadium

Dome will not happen but open-air stadium could be built near Evraz Place
Reported by Patrick Book
Change text size: + -

Regina may get a new stadium, but it will look very different than the domed or retractable-roof facility that has been talked about so much the last few years.

The first concrete details of the city's Regina Revitalization Initiative (RRI) were released this week. On Friday the full funding proposal was made public, revealing that the city is now hoping and expecting to construct a $250 million open-air stadium on the Evraz Place grounds west of the existing Mosaic Stadium.

The construction relies entirely on public funding, with no money expected from the private sector.

The details are very different than the ones announced in April of 2011 by Regina mayor Pat Fiacco.

After a previous attempt by the Saskatchewan government to secure federal funding for a new stadium construction failed, Fiacco revealed the billion dollar RRI as a means to replace the century-old Mosaic Stadium and create more inner-city housing and business development.

The lynchpin of the plan is a 30 acre parcel of land that lies between the city's downtown and the Warehouse District to the north, a space that has been owned and used by CP Rail as a shipping container yard.

The RRI planned for a new stadium to be constructed in that land, provided the city is able to buy it from CP.

Like the previous provincial proposal, a domed or retractable-roof stadium was floated as a possibility, a multi-purpose facility that could generate revenue year-round. Instead the city now says an open-air facility on the Evraz Place lands is a preferable and more affordable option.

"As much as we would love to have a big, state of the art, retractable roof facility that would be great for a lot of people, (the question is) can we afford it?" said Deputy City Manager Brent Sjoberg, who also serves as the city's Chief Financial Officer. "As we looked at some of the numbers we don't think we can."

The city has said this week that it hopes to get $230 million from the provincial government for the RRI, with $200 million going specifically to the stadium costs.

No money is expected from the federal government on the stadium piece, but the city hopes it will be able to secure some money for land assessment and remediation and other elements of the plan relating to housing.

The city will have to come up with $88 million over the 10 to 15 year span of the project, with just over $60 going into the stadium construction.

However, the financial picture appears to be only half the story of why Evraz Place is now being called the ideal location.

The city has been negotiating with CP Rail to buy up the shipping yard lands since the middle of last year. It hopes to have a deal struck by the end of this month.

However, when reached by phone between appointments Friday afternoon, mayor Pat Fiacco admitted that there simply isn't enough room in the parcel of land north of downtown to hold a stadium.

"The 17 acres is where the container yards are. If you recall I think there are four or five business lines that CP has there and it's only the container yards that are actually moving. The rest of the business lines they have will stay on that particular site. So the 17 acres, which also includes the spur lines, they'll all get moved to the Global Transportation Hub and the rest will stay (at the rail yard)."

The city concedes that 17 acres isn't enough room to hold a stadium and everything that goes along with it.
Immediately after the announcement fans were already bristling at the change in plans, many lamenting that the state-of-the-art domed facility has been downgraded to "Mosaic Stadium rebuilt."

But the mayor, Sjoberg, and City Manager Glen Davies are all adamant that the new location won't leave fans out in the cold.

Fiacco insists all stadiums constructed the last few years are open-air. He says consultants have told them athletes prefer it and measures can be taken to look after fans.

"The concourse areas are intended to be closed in, the seating area of the facility is intended to have a roof on it. So it's really just the field portion that's the only portion that will be open."

Sjoberg adds that measures can also be taken to cover the field in winter so that the playing surface remains useable.

Davies explained to reporters at a news conference Friday morning that the location at Evraz Place also melds well with the infrastructure that's already in place there, such as the Brandt Centre hockey arena, the Cooperators Centre hockey rinks, and a soccer facility.

Davies also stressed that efforts will be made to make the space between Evraz, the current Mosaic Stadium site, and the Warehouse District and downtown more friendly to both pedestrians and motorists through roadway improvements and the creation of pathways and pedestrian bridges from downtown to the Warehouse area.

"As people understand the rationale and the benefits we'll undoubtedly and hopefully be engaged in a good public debate on what it all looks like and what we'll end up with," said Davies.

As much attention as the stadium is getting, however, Davies stresses it's just one component of the RRI.

He says using Evraz Place as the site for a new stadium will be cheaper for the city since it already owns the land; that will mean the entire portion of the CP lands can be sold off to developers with the city still able to dictate how it's used.

If the new stadium is built that will allow the city to destroy Mosaic Stadium and replace it with up to 700 new housing units.

Edited by CJME's Lisa Schick.

----------------------------------

The City of Regina admits a domed stadium will not happen as it also reveals a new location for the building -- Evraz Place land.

The City is looking to construct a new open-air stadium as part of its larger revitalization plan involving the CP rail land.

Building on the Evraz land will lower the cost for the city.

The City says the full plan will ensure fans will be able to walk and drive easily between the downtown, the Warehouse District, and Evraz Place by the time everything is finished.

Addressing the questions about proposed private funding, deputy city manager Brent Sjoberg insists there simply isn't anyone in the private sector willing to foot the entire bill for a new stadium.

He said private funding for stadiums just doesn't happen in Canada.

"The private development of a stadium happens with rich NFL owners basically they own the team and they can build a stadium and it all works for them," Sjoberg explained.

"In any other cases there needs to be public funding for it to happen - it's a community facility."

The price tag on the development is the same as previously reported this week. The province is being asked for $200 million, which would be the bulk of the cost.

The city contribution will be just $50 million. It is lower since the City doesn't have to buy the land for construction.

This story was first reported at 10:58 A.M. on Friday, May 4 2012.

Edited by News Talk Radio's Adriana Christianson.

The red pin on the map displays the new proposed location. The green pin shows the location of the current stadium. The yellow pin represents an earlier proposed location.


View New stadium location for Regina in a larger map