A study highlighting the possibility of a downtown arena has business owners and team officials talking about the potential of the project.
However, who would pay for the new arena development isn’t as clear.
The presentation to city council’s governance and priorities committee on Monday highlighted a cost range between $330 million and $375 million, which doesn’t include land, infrastructure or relocation costs.
Saskatoon Blades President Steve Hogle told 650 CKOM on Tuesday the WHL team is supportive of a downtown arena, but it’s too early to say whether they would pitch in for a new home.
“We would want to play some kind of role in it and show some kind of commitment,” he said.
“But it’s very early to make that kind of statement.”
Hogle, who was also involved in Edmonton’s push for a downtown arena, said there are other funding options to consider first.
He pointed to greater accessibility to area restaurants and entertainment venues compared to the current SaskTel Centre location, which could lead to more spending and tax revenue.
“I’m a firm believer in ‘How goes your downtown, how goes your city,'” he said.
“I think it’s critical if the city moves forward with it … to have a made-in-Saskatoon funding formula.”
Parking as a positive
Many members of the public have also raised concerns over the availability of parking in the downtown core if an arena were to be built.
However, Hogle noted the parking situation is similar to Edmonton’s ICE District — where there are approximately 15,000 parking stalls within a 15 minute walk of Rogers Place.
“There is ample opportunity for parking, and there’s opportunity for the city to generate revenue in that regard,” he said.
Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill echoed the sentiment during Monday’s committee meeting, noting Saskatoon has 13,000 parking stalls in the downtown core.
“We don’t have a parking problem,” he said.
“We have a problem with people wanting to park directly in front of where they’re going to.”
He said residents may need to accept having to walk a few blocks to arrive at their destination.
Refurbishing old site ‘throwing good money after bad:’ NSBA
Another group excited by the possibility of a downtown arena are Saskatoon’s business owners.
NSBA Executive Director Keith Moen said the group supports the city exploring the feasibility of building a central event centre.
“It seems like there’s opportunity that’s worthwhile pursuing,” he said.
From a cost standpoint, the business leader suggested a $101 million price tag on renovating SaskTel Centre may be too high.
“It seems to be a little bit of throwing good money after bad,” he said.
When asked about funding a downtown arena, Moen said businesses already pay a higher tax rate than residents.
He said it’s up to city council to use those tax revenues to engage a comprehensive plan for Saskatoon’s growth.
“This is another opportunity for the vision to be applied,” he said.
He suggested the city should look into “creative ways of fundraising,” but did say businesses could “perhaps” get involved in a funding solution.