Although Regina’s latest outdoor attraction, Iceville, has closed for the season, there are already plans in the works to reinstate it next winter.
The Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL), which runs the Evraz Place property that includes Mosaic Stadium, made the announcement Monday morning.
“When you build a piece of civic infrastructure that has the value, such as Mosaic Stadium, we as programmers and operators have to be exceptionally creative,” said REAL president Tim Reid.
“I think what we’ve really recognized through Iceville is the fact that we have a wonderful facility that doesn’t need to be a facility only for six months.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Mosaic Stadium, home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was sitting empty with the cancellation of last year’s CFL season and subsequent postponement of the 2020 Grey Cup, which Regina was slated to host.
Reid said his team came up with Iceville to fill the empty venue and that the response from the community was unexpectedly overwhelming.
“Mosaic Stadium was busier this year in the winter time than it ever is in the summer months,” he said.
“And that was a great recognition I think for what the community loves about the stadium but also just their desire to participate.”
Since opening on New Year’s Eve, 13,000 skaters have hit the 110,000-square-foot rink. It’s the largest one in the province and is big enough to fit more than six National Hockey League-sized ice surfaces inside.
“Watching others get down to that field level for the first time, I think, was part of the magic of Iceville,” Reid said.
“To be skating a place where we’ve seen some of our favourite football moments, I think, was just really special.”
At first, coronavirus protocols meant that 30 people were allowed on the ice at once. A few weeks later, the cap was increased to 50.
Reid said he expects greater capacity in subsequent seasons.
“Once we’re through COVID-19, I think we’ll have an opportunity to really build Iceville into something that’s pretty magnificent, that’s bigger and better than ever before,” he said.
Next winter, REAL hopes to open Iceville earlier.
“What we learned this year was a lot about trying to turn a football stadium into an ice rink,” he said.
The cost of the conversion was about $20,000. The armour decking that normally goes over the field for concerts was laid before it was flooded.
Once the ice melts and the water drains, the field should be good to go.
While Reid said the facility will be ready for the Roughriders when the CFL approves a return-to-play, there are other ideas floating around to make use of the stadium over the course of the upcoming summer