City staff “concurs with and supports” a recommendation dating back to March to replace Saskatoon’s aging entertainment facilities with a new downtown arena.
That from a pair of administration reports released late Wednesday afternoon ahead of a city council committee meeting next week.
The reports are based on a city staff review of a private sector assessment, which recommended replacing SaskTel Centre and TCU Place with a combined downtown arena and convention centre at a cost of between $330 million and $375 million.
Renovating the facilities would cost approximately $120 million according to the study.
However, the reports filed Wednesday suggest a downtown arena “would be a catalyst for further downtown development.”
“Our basic perspective is that we’d be better off with a location that is more central, so likely in the downtown, to facilitate a better synergy with all the existing amenities,” said Lesley Anderson, director of planning and development.
Administration is suggesting all future downtown planning, including the City Centre Plan due to be updated in the next year, should include an arena option until a decision is made on whether to build one or not.
Anderson said there are still a lot of “big questions” to answer when it comes to the arena, including the impact on bus rapid transit, water services and road usage.
While the city is advocating for including an arena in downtown planning, potential sites haven’t been narrowed down.
A separate report being filed by the city’s finance department provides several options for funding an arena mega-project, but doesn’t endorse a single method.
Among those options are ticket surcharges, tax incremental financing and naming rights or sponsorship of the arena.
Tax incremental financing would involve directing any property tax revenue from assessment increases in the area of the arena towards paying for the project — similar to the method used to fund Edmonton’s Roger’s Place.
The report notes since 2005, arenas or stadiums built in cities without NHL teams or other professional franchises have on average received about 60 per cent of their funding from the municipality.
It adds the City of Regina provided 62 per cent of the funding for the new Mosaic Stadium.
Finance Director Kerry Tarasoff said the city would have to consider all options.
“You have to take a look at any opportunities with private partnerships,” he said.
“Funding from other levels of government will be tough, the feds have basically said they’re not into that realm of financing.”
City councillors will consider the reports at Tuesday’s governance and priorities committee meeting.