City councillors in Saskatoon have a lot to consider when it comes to the future of recreation facilities in the city after a “pitch party” Wednesday afternoon.
Seven organizations made presentations to city council’s governance and priorities committee, laying out their plans for new projects and expansions of existing facilities.
It included a downtown soccer stadium, a permanent structure for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan and an indoor track facility at Gordie Howe Park.
“It’s pretty inspiring to be in a city that has this level of interest, this level of partnership being presented,” Mayor Charlie Clark said after the presentations.
Highlighting the pitches was a $20 million soccer stadium, which would be designed to house a Canadian Premier League team in Saskatoon.
Former Canadian national soccer player Joe Belan said the plan was to install a modular stadium with 8,200 seats in the north end of downtown.
The facility would include a turf field and bubble dome to allow for winter use.
He added they hadn’t worked out a financial plan for the stadium yet and were hoping to form a partnership with the city.
“Any financing proposal that we put forth will not impact taxpayers at all,” Belan told 650 CKOM Wednesday.
He touted the facility as a draw for international sporting events, including the possibility of acting as a training and practice facility for a national team during the 2026 World Cup.
Belan’s group is still working with the newly-minted Canadian Premier League to secure a Saskatchewan franchise, which could hit the field by 2019.
He said they would play in front of the Prairieland Park grandstand until a stadium could be built.
Once construction started, Belan said the stadium could be completed within 10 months.
“We want to be here 50 years or beyond,” he said. “This is a long-term, legacy investment.”
Shakespeare on the Sask. asks for amenities help
Another major pitch came from Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Artistic Director Will Brooks, who proposed permanent structures at its current site.
The plans include a permanent base, which could be used as an open-air amphitheatre by the public, and two pavilions for the organizations use.
“The nature of our existing site has left us with no option but to lock the chain-link fence at the end of our season,” he said. “We’d very much like to change that and redevelop the site so that public and organizational access is available outside our own uses.”
He told councillors the group was confident they could raise the $3 million necessary for the upgrade without city funds but did ask for improvements to surrounding amenities including parking constraints and washrooms.
Children’s Museum, Friends of the Bowl ask for funding support
During the presentations, there were several requests for city-funding.
The Children’s Discovery Museum asked for a $2 million contribution over three years due to cost overruns in their project.
Executive Director Amanda McReynolds Doran said the increased costs were due to a delay in taking possession of the old Mendel Art Gallery, and upgrades.
The Friends of the Bowl Foundation also asked for $5 million over five years to help fund the construction of several upgrades at Gordie Howe Park, including a track field in the same spot as the outdoor speed skating oval.
No funding decisions were made by councillors Wednesday, though some of the proposals may be discussed in budget deliberations this fall.