Support grows for new downtown arena: Tourism Saskatoon

Rendering of proposed convention centre which consultants suggest be located on the same site or in close proximity to a proposed new arena. Convergence Design, HLT Advisory and Conventional Wisdom

Tourism Saskatoon says support for a new downtown arena and convention centre continues to grow.

The organization said a poll by Insightrix in October 2017 found 63.4 per cent of those surveyed supported a new facility in downtown Saskatoon, compared with 51 per cent in spring 2016.

Todd Brandt, the president and CEO of Tourism Saskatoon, said the city is missing out on landing events due to current limitations at TCU Place.

“Tourism Saskatoon’s current strategic plan, authored in 2014, specifically identifies the need to expand our hosting capacity for both TCU Place and SaskTel Centre if we expect to remain competitive in securing and hosting major national and international cultural, business and sporting events,” Brandt said in a statement.

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“We will be losing bids to host at an increasing rate. The longer it takes to build, the more grim our situation will become.”

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Tourism Saskatoon said the city recently lost bids to host two events – the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Diabetes Canada – due to shortfalls at TCU Place.

“This is a loss to our city of more than 4,600 delegates who would have spent in excess of $4.5 million in our local economy,” Tourism Saskatoon said in a press release.

“We will begin to lose business to other destinations better able to accommodate their event needs.”

WATCH BELOW: Study recommends new downtown Saskatoon arena

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Study recommends new downtown Saskatoon arena

SaskTel Centre CEO Will Lofdahl has the same concerns.

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He stated the roof structure at the arena has become a factor when they bid on big shows as the height and capacity is unable to support the weight of stage equipment some acts use.

The restrictions almost cost the city the Garth Brooks string of concerts, according to Lofdahl.

“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,” Lofdahl said earlier this week.

A report released on March 19 is recommending a new arena and convention centre be built to replace SaskTel Centre and TCU Place.

The cost to replace the Saskatoon facilities is estimated at $330 million to $375 million.

Renovations to the facilities were considered as part of the report, but not recommended.

The city has stated a decision on a new facility has not yet been made and the report released this week is the first step in a 10-step process.

With files from Wendy Winiewski

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