Saskatoon’s chamber of commerce to poll businesses on location of downtown arena

One of the possible sites for the new Saskatoon event centre is North Downtown/ City Yards. Global News/ Devon Latchuk

The City of Saskatoon is one step closer to deciding on a location for the new downtown arena and event centre.

Two potential locations are left — the Midtown mall north parking lot or the City Yards in north downtown. Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce CEO Jason Aebig said he is looking forward to seeing the final decision.

“Downtown has always been the goal. Anywhere else in the city would obviously present some challenges, and obviously wouldn’t deliver the economic spinoff and impact that an arena-convention centre, and sort of entertainment district downtown will provide,” said Aebig.

He added that they’ve created a taskforce that is dedicated to the question of where the new downtown arena should go, and that they’ll be asking the business community.

“The Chamber will start surveying and polling really aggressively so that we can get a pulse, so that we can get a feel of which option makes the most sense in the eyes of the business community.”

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Read more: Future downtown Saskatoon arena site whittled down to two possibilities

He said he’s looking forward to the results of that polling, because business owners may have differing opinions depending on where they are located.

Aebig said they want the biggest and best arena that “we can afford.”

“There’s the asterisk, that we can afford. So, we should build it so that we can grow into it.”

He said we need to have the right size for a city that is growing, and that the right amenities and services need to be available.

“It’s easy to dream big, and it’s fun to start playing with designs and options, but what we really have to keep in mind is the impact to the city’s coffers, and certainly the impact to the taxpayer.”

Aebig said this will also be a positive to downtown safety and vibrancy.

Read more: Manitoba spending $1 million to support child-care services for newcomer families

Some Saskatoon residents, like Mitch Cantin, like the idea of a new arena, but aren’t too fond of the locations.

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“If it brings bigger sports venues, why not? More jobs, more money? I don’t think it needs to be right downtown, parking’s already bad enough down here,” said Cantin.

Other residents felt that an arena downtown should have been the thought process with Sask Place.

“I’m kind of sad Sask Place only lasted 30 years. I think it’s a good idea to have stuff downtown, I thought that 30 years ago when Sask Place was built,” said resident Sheldon Corbett.

Corbett added that he liked the potential location at Midtown mall, noting that it was more central.

Resident Brianna Gardipy also liked the idea of the Midtown mall location, noting that it was close to shopping.

“I think that would be awesome. I mean, we have so much going on downtown, why not add some more events?” said Gardipy.

And resident Josh Dahl said a new downtown arena would get more people downtown again, adding that he also liked the Midtown mall location.

“It’s walking distance from all the bars and restaurants,” said Dahl.

Public consultation begins on Tuesday, and the final decision on the site will be made in November.

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