A study commissioned by the boards in charge of TCU Place and SaskTel Centre is recommending that council look at building a new arena and convention centre downtown.
The study presented Monday to city council’s governance and priorities committee was prepared by Convergence Design, HLT Advisory, and Conventional Wisdom — a trio of design, planning and consulting firms.
The authors noted both TCU Place and SaskTel Centre are nearing the ends of their service lives.
SaskTel Centre was built in 1988. While the study found it has adequate seating, it noted the arena’s concourse, washrooms and retail facilities are all sub-par compared to modern standards.
“There are homes in this city that have kitchens larger than we have — that’s a fact,” SaskTel Centre CEO Will Lofdahl said after the meeting. “We serve 15,000 people out of what used to be office space.”
The cost of building a new arena and convention centre was pegged at between $330 million and $375 million, not counting land, infrastructure and relocation costs.
By contrast, the cost of renovating both facilities was pegged at just below a combined $120 million.
However, the study’s authors cautioned it probably wasn’t worth doing, as it wouldn’t correct all the problems with either facility. In particular, the study’s authors noted significant downsides to having SaskTel Centre remain on the outskirts of the city.
The study projected between about $4 million and $6 million in additional revenue would be generated from a new downtown location, based on new business that could be brought in to a modern facility.
“Downtown is where things are happening,” Lofdahl added. “You want to be where it’s at — where people can come and go to dinner beforehand … or maybe go out for beers afterward. Where we are now, that’s not what you can do.”
Key Findings in the #arena study:
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TCU Place opened in 1968. While the study noted a renovation completed in 2006 had done a lot to make the building more useable, exhibit spaces, kitchen services and acoustics were still found to be below standard for modern convention requirements.
“Parts of the new facility rely on the old facility, which is certainly coming up to the end of its useful life,” said TCU Place CEO Bob Korol.
Korol said he was pleased the study looked at both an arena and convention centre. He pointed to Edmonton, where he said the brand new arena has taken the spotlight from the city’s convention centre.
“If we’re to be proactive, and our city is to be proactive, we have to look at these agendas together. So I’m pleased with that,” he said.
One of the study’s recommendations is that there would be renovations done to the now 50-year-old Sid Buckwold Theatre.
Korol noted one of the challenges facing TCU Place, unlike SaskTel Centre, is it’s current location downtown.
“There’s really nowhere to move where it is just now. Potentially it was maybe built in the wrong spot in the first place, because there may have been opportunity to not necessarily expand, but re-purpose.”
Korol added if they don’t make changes, they’ll likely have difficulty attracting national and international conventions.
There’s no indication yet as to where exactly the arena and convention centre would be located downtown. As the study is in the early stages, it did not include possible funding models.
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Daniella Ponticelli.