BID wants downtown entertainment district ‘as close as possible to Riversdale’

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WATCH ABOVE: City officials are negotiating where they're going to purchase land for a new downtown arena and entertainment district – Sep 26, 2019

The City of Saskatoon is in the preliminary stages of planning for the development of a new arena and convention centre.

Officials are currently negotiating deals for potential locations downtown.

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“Just to have an arena is not going to work, just to have a convention centre is not going to work,” Coun. Troy Davies said.

“You have to have other amenities in these buildings if you’re going to invest these types of dollars into something like this.”

Administration has been analyzing the sites since April, according to a city report.

Davies said a study identified four potential locations, but due to confidentiality requirements would not say where.

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“It’s been made clear by council this would have to be downtown, in the downtown catchment area,” he said.

“If you’re not going to build it downtown — we might as well go back out to where we are now.”

Since talks of a new facility first began, Randy Pshebylo, executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District (BID), has been a strong advocate for the area as a possible site.

“What the [board] has been very clear about is that, if it’s not built in Riversdale, then this arena, convention centre be built as close as possible to Riversdale itself,” he said.

Ultimately whatever is decided, Pshebylo believes it needs to be walkable and close to existing amenities.

“We have to consider Broadway, downtown, and Riversdale in a whole context,” he said. “Over 80 per cent of the cultural amenities are located in these three districts.”

“There’s only three cities in North America who don’t have their arena downtown and we need to build on that,” Davies said.

The cost of replacing 31-year-old SaskTel Centre and 51-year-old TCU Place is estimated between $330 million and $375 million.

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“It’s all going to come down to the financing and none of that has even been looked into yet,” Davies explained.

The report indicated once the preferred sites have been made public, the community will get a chance to weigh in and address concerns before any purchases are even made.

“We have time,” Davies said. “We’ve brought this forward with years before we have to make a solid decision on how this going to have to look.”

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