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Mark Stephen: Roughriders already have Stampeders beat on new stadium

McMahon Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014.
McMahon Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. Kevin Karius, Global News

Kickoff may be Sept. 24, but already the Calgary Stampeders are trailing the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Not on the scoreboard, but in the facilities game.

The contrast could not be more striking. The Stampeders will practice in one of the oldest facilities in the league, then fly to Saskatchewan’s shiny new football palace for Sunday’s game.

Somehow, a province with a population smaller than the City of Calgary – a city with one-fifth of Calgary’s population -was able to build a new stadium, while our stadiums have become an election football. (Appropriate, if terrible pun).

LISTEN: Do the Saskatchewan Roughrider have an advantage when it comes to the new Mosaic Stadium?

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READ MORE: Rider Nation roars as Labour Day Classic brings old rivalry to a new stadium

How exactly did we get here, and how exactly did they get to hold stadium opening ceremonies while we endlessly debate facilities?

First, there was a pressing need in Regina. McMahon Stadium may be old and in need of updates, but it is a shiny new car compared to the old Mosaic Stadium. That building is currently being knocked down by wrecking crews.  I think if they had waited another year or two, the building may have fallen down on its own.

READ MORE: Mark Stephen: Calgary Stampeders fans just as boisterous as Roughriders devotees

The situation in Regina was far more dire than in Calgary. There was also a social component to building a stadium in Regina. Mosaic Stadium sits adjacent to a troubled area of Regina. If you hear any major crime news from Regina, there is a good chance the event happened close to Mosaic Stadium.

There are plans to upgrade that area of Regina with new development. Contrast that with McMahon Stadium, which lies in a leafy, upper-middle class neighbourhood close to the University of Calgary. No social pressures here.

There are also political factors at work (always are!). Saskatchewan’s outgoing Premier Brad Wall and Regina Mayor Michael Fougere were both big backers of a new stadium project. Having two of the most senior politicians in the province pushing a project is obviously a big boost.

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Our premier seems to have zero interest in anything to do with sports. In fact, the only sports reference I have heard her make, was a proclamation that she is a big Oilers fan. Can’t imagine that would help her election prospects in Calgary!

WATCH BELOW: What’s next for Calgary’s McMahon Stadium

Click to play video 'What’s next for Calgary’s McMahon Stadium' What’s next for Calgary’s McMahon Stadium
What’s next for Calgary’s McMahon Stadium

LISTEN: Stamps colour analyst Greg Peterson joins Gord Gillies to set up Sunday’s matchup and talk about new Mosaic Stadium

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Our city hall does not seem to be moving on any sports-related projects. Heck, we have heard for a decade they want to build a big fieldhouse. Nothing has happened on that front.

A hockey arena and football stadium seem ever further away.

If any new structures are to be built, the Flames’ home has become priority one. McMahon Stadium sits a distant second, at this juncture.

We will head to Regina on the weekend and fantasize about their structure in our city. Sigh.