Sask. government funding Regina stadium up to $80 million, loans possible
The Saskatchewan government is agreeing to pay up to $80 million towards the new stadium in Regina and says loans for more money are possible if other partners come on board.
This is less than the $230 million requested by the City for the Regina Revitalization Initiative.
But Mayor Pat Fiacco is happy. He was responding to a letter sent to him by Ken Cheveldayoff, the minister responsible for the stadium file. (Listen to Minister Ken Cheveldayoff's announcement and response to questions here.)
"It's safe to say that we're just about to score a touchdown," said Fiacco.
Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are committing money to a new stadium. But unlike the province and the City of Regina, they aren't yet saying how much that contribution will be.
Cheveldayoff explains the funding
In the letter sent to Fiacco, Cheveldayoff says the government is prepared to offer 30 per cent of the project cost for the stadium itself to a cap of $80 million. Cheveldayoff said this is based on the same funding model as many other recreational facilities across the province. The province is also willing to offer a loan to the city to be re-paid with interest for more of the money.
"We just feel that $80 million with the provision of a province-backed loan is something that's very fair," Cheveldayoff explained.
He added that they will give the city and private partners a loan for more money on a project if they come forward with a feasible plan.
"It throws the ball back into the court of the City and the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the other private-sector interests," Cheveldayoff explained.
Funding comes with a condition -- building must be "roof-ready"
The funding and the loan offer comes with one condition. The stadium has to be built 'roof-ready' meaning that a roof could be added in the future.
"There was a concern that if we just went open-air and threw the idea of an enclosed out, that maybe we would be preventing ourselves from looking at something in the future," said Cheveldayoff. "We don't want to be in a position five years from now to say well you built it this way and there's no way you can ever have a roof."
Although he couldn't name of any current examples where a stadium has been built first and then had a roof added later, he was assured by architects that it is possible. Although there is an option to spend extra money and build piles for a future roof right away, he said the better choice would be just to make sure the structure allows for a roof to be added.
"I'm told that things can be done in stages and (with) the financial requirements that we have on us right now that's the way we want to go," Cheveldayoff said.
Mayor Pat Fiacco is smiling
Fiacco says the City can move forward with a design plan.
"We want to have all of our funding in place by the end of July," he said.
As for private partners to build the new stadium, Fiacco wasn't willing to say who those companies might be.
Responding to the question about the role Roughriders could have to kick in more money, like the Bombers did for Winnipeg's stadium, Cheveldayoff says he hopes with the funding announcement they will start making some decisions.
"This gives them the ability to come up with something that can leverage taxpayer's dollars into something very special for our province," he said.
Roughriders share little
Despite repeated questions, Roger Brandvold, chairman of the Roughrider board, wouldn't be pushed on how much the Riders will give.
"The province will be available to provide a loan and so we will participate in that, yes," Brandvold did say.
The provincial government and the City of Regina together are providing $140 million. But at least another one hundred million is needed.
As for when we will know what contribution the Riders will make, Brandvold echoes the mayor's committment to the end of July.
"Yes we will. We are very committed to that timeline," said Brandvold.
Brandvold is even saying he doesn't expect ticket prices to be impacted by this contribution.
"The fact is that we are also very concious of the sensitivity of prices and we would anticipate that prices aren't going to change that much," said Brandvold.
You can hear a podcast of Minister Ken Cheveldayoff's announcement and response to questions here.
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Edited by CJME's Adriana Christianson and Karen Brownlee.