Most of the City of Regina’s executive committee voted for a motion to reject a letter of intent for a proposed new baseball stadium at a meeting on Wednesday.
On the agenda, city administration recommended that city council delegate authority to City Manager Chris Holden to approve a letter of intent between the city, Regina Red Sox Baseball Club and Living Sky Sports and Entertainment Inc. (LSSE).
The recommendation included city approval for funding of up to $100,000 for the city’s share of “exploratory work” regarding the project.
Holden explained how the baseball club and LSSE would help fund the feasibility study, but noted that the city would take on a significant share of costs since it would eventually be a city-owned facility.
The Red Sox put pen to paper on a memorandum of understanding earlier this year with LSSE, which helped work on the concept plans.
The initial price tag for the park is estimated between $20 million to $25 million, and the Red Sox would be the anchor tenant of the 3,500-seat, state-of-the-art stadium.
“(This project) is a little bit outside of our rec master plan. It’s not a priority in terms of a baseball facility and it does not really fit with our rec partnership framework,” Holden said.
“However, it really looks at quality of life in providing opportunities for residents and I think it does have an opportunity to spur some economic growth and activity.”
At Wednesday’s meeting, a motion was created by Councillor Bob Hawkins to both deny the letter of intent and to not advance funds requested for the feasibility study.
Hawkins stated that there should be financial support coming from the private sector to help with costs for the feasibility study.
He said the city has other funding priorities regarding recreational projects along with other financial focuses, including supports for COVID-19 and repayments towards Mosaic Stadium.
The Ward 2 councillor also believes there is not enough backing from the community at this time for this type of project.
“We’re committed to community wellness and the environment, but this is not the moment to invest in $100,000, which right now, is just a dream.” suggested Hawkins during the meeting.
After a debate among committee members, the motion was passed 7-3.
Councillors Hawkins, Cheryl Stadnichuk, Shanon Zachidniak, Andrew Stevens, Daniel LeBlanc, Jason Mancinelli and Mayor Sandra Masters all voted in favour.
Lori Bresciani, Terina Shaw and John Findura were the remaining councillors who voted against the motion presented by Hawkins. Councillor Landon Mohl did not attend the meeting.
‘Disappointed, but not surprised’
Alan Simpson, founder of LSSE, was not happy to hear about executive committee’s decision on Wednesday afternoon.
He said while he’s disappointed by the end result, he admitted he’s also not shocked.
“It takes special groups to do special things like this. Quite obviously, the City of Regina does not share the same vision as LSSE and the Red Sox, so we move on,” Simpson said in an interview with Global News on Wednesday.
So where do LSSE and the Red Sox go from here?
Simpson is now hopeful that a partnership with some private sector funding can get this project moving forward.
In terms of location for the stadium, Simpson said engineering studies and other steps LSSE and the Red Sox undertook identified the rail yards by Dewdney Avenue as a good spot for the facility.
Simpson believes a location like that could attract north of 100,000 fans per season at Red Sox games, more than what Currie Field, their current home, draws for home games.
“It can act as quite an economic cornerstone for the Dewdney Avenue entertainment district and revitalize a downtown core which is in dire need of a lot of work.”