Replacement of SaskTel Centre and TCU Place is recommended rather than renovations or status quo. The suggestion comes from a report commissioned jointly by three consultants and presented Monday afternoon at the city’s governance and priorities committee meeting.
The cost to replace the Saskatoon facilities is estimated at $330 million to $375 million.
SaskTel Centre opened in 1988 and was built at a cost of $26.1 million. According to its CEO, it is in dire need of upgrades.
“There are homes in this city that have kitchens larger than the kitchen that we have,” SaskTel Centre CEO Will Lofdahl said.
“We serve food for 15,000 people out of what used to be office space. Dressing rooms are inadequate, our rigging steel is lower than what it should be and also, how much you can hang from that steel is also an issue.”
The roof structure has become a factor when bidding on big shows. The height and capacity at SaskTel Centre is unable to support the weight of stage equipment some acts use. According to Lofdahl, the Garth Brooks concert string and associated economic impact was almost lost because of it.
Aside from structural restrictions, Convergence Design consultant David Greusel said “SaskTel Centre is in the wrong location in my opinion.” The location, on the outskirts of the city was contentious when the arena was built.
Consultants propose the arena should seat 15,000 people, the same capacity as SaskTel Centre. They’re not suggesting more space but a better use of space instead.
Renovating is a consideration but isn’t recommended.
“Our study shows a possible renovation of SaskTel Centre which essentially wraps a donut of new space around the existing building,” Greusel said. “Perhaps more importantly the location of the SaskTel Centre doesn’t change and that’s really the thing that I think is holding that building back even more than the facility itself, is its remote location.”
While the 50-year-old TCU Place is located downtown, CEO Bob Korol believes renovating and expanding it would be difficult. “There’s nowhere to move where it is right now so potentially it was built in the wrong spot in the first place,” Korol said.
The report recommends a new arena and convention centre on either the same site or within close proximity of one another.
Consultants, the CEO of SaskTel Centre and several city councillors were quick to point out a decision has not yet been made, calling this the first step in a 10-step process.