North Dakota's Fargodome is a size small -- in Regina we need a size medium
Kevin Blevins 07-16-2009
It's good to see that everyone is catching up to what we here at the Leader-Post have been writing for more than a year -- Regina needs a new stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Fargodome is a good start in terms of finding out what the possibilities are. Read more here in an excellent story filed by Angela Hall.
Of course, the Fargodome can only be a start: First of all, it's too small for what the Riders need. If an NFL or MLB dome is considered a large, the Fargodome would be considered a small. In Regina, we need a medium, something in between that has 35,000 seats for football (the CFL's optimum stadium size), with room in one end zone for 10,000 more temporary seats for Grey Cups. The open end zone can also serve as a place to put up stages for concerts and trade shows.
On the latter point, make no mistake, this is important. Regina and the province cannot afford to build a $300 to $400 million open air stadium that is used properly (that means revenues cover or exceed operating expenses for the event) 12 or 13 times a year. That's why a dome is a must. Sorry, outdoor football lovers, a dome is a compromise that must be made. If you read today's story by Ms. Hall, you'll learn that the Fargodome hosts about eight football games a year, but is used nearly 200 days a year, because it has a roof over it and inside it can be configured into many different seat combinations, allowing it to host concerts and events of varying sizes. So yes, just like Fargo, North Dakota, we live in a climate where we can expect at least six months of cold, winter-like weather, so a roof is a must.
What is also a must is a downtown location. A new dome that will play host to the Riders cannot be built anywhere else but downtown. A Leader-Post photographer recently travelled to Winnipeg to see Coldplay at the MTS Centre arena, located smack in the middle of that city's downtown. He told me he marvelled at the activity after the show, as 14,000 happy and excited folks rolled out of the arena to fill up nearby restaurants and bars. He said downtown Winnipeg remained alive with frivolity hours after Coldplay's last note on stage. That's what downtown entertainment centres do. They revive downtowns. They bring them to life.
And make no mistake, if the Riders do get a new home, it needs to be in an entertainment centre and not a football only stadium, a building with a roof high enough to accommodate majestic punts, with a roof that will keep all 35,000 fans warm, cozy and comfortable during a home playoff game.
On a personal note, I will have the Fargodome in mind this Saturday, as I sit with my aunts and uncles in Section 202, watching the Riders battle the Montreal Alouettes. The forecast is calling for highs of 28C, so it should be a beautiful day, although I'm sure the cool wind will blow in from around the corner (as it almost always does) and the lineups for food and bathrooms in the upper deck will be ridiculously long... Mosaic Stadium, despite a near perfect day weather wise, will still show her age and her inadequacies. But that's for another blog post.
asper will not be building a new stadium because canwest global lost 4.4 billion last year.
Lord Lab Rat
^LOL. Odviously you don't know the Aspers.
If Canwest Global lost 4.4 billion last year doesn't really matter. All the Aspers and their friends still made sure they got paid hundreds of millions of dollars while it happen.
Earth movers will be tearing up my pitches at UoM by November the latest. Probably October. No if, ands, or buts...
Smug Left Coaster
If something like that gets built...wow. Really, that would be amazing to see in Canada.
quote:Originally posted by Joe MacCarthy
The option to be explored is a dome in downtown Regina -- It's good to see everyone catching up!
Kevin Blevins 07-20-2009
So the news was finally made official today. The province and the city and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, with some help from the federal government, want to spend $1M to further explore a replacement for aging Mosaic Stadium in Regina: specifically, a domed multi-purpose stadium in the downtown. The Riders hope it becomes a reality and so do I. Here is a copy of the initial report's conclusions:
That's right. No more lipstick on the pig. And an outdoor only football stadium, for the nice weather we get for four out of 10 Rider games a year? Well, that isn't a realistic option either. So it's a dome, one that can be used year round for all sorts of entertainment, in Regina's downtown. And the economic conditions appear right for such a long, lasting megaproject. Where have you read that before? In the pages of the Leader-Post, of course. Here is a column I wrote in December, 2007, about the prospect of a new stadium, when no one else was publicly talking about it:
I love Regina, but I would love it even more if our civic leaders dared to dream big.
Right now, the stars are aligning for something huge, and the folks at City Hall shouldn't need a telescope to see it.
1. The Saskatchewan Roughriders are Grey Cup champions, the perfect thank-you for their rabid fans, many from Regina, who filled Mosaic Stadium to capacity eight of 11 times in 2007.
2. Confident the team will continue its success -- a safe bet, for sure -- Rider officials are exploring ways to permanently or temporarily increase the 28,800-seat capacity of Mosaic Stadium with the aim of hosting the 2012 Grey Cup. The CFL's preferred capacity for a stadium is about 35,000.
3. Acknowledging they are fighting a losing battle with big box developers on Regina's southeast and northwest edges, city officials are asking for public input to renew the city's ailing downtown, which sports only two destinations for anyone who doesn't work at a bank or in a government office: Casino Regina and the Cornwall Centre.
4. CP Rail is moving out of the downtown, almost. In two or three years, the railway's main line will still split the city into north and south, but the container rail yard will be on the city's west side, freeing up 20 acres of land in the centre.
What should Regina do?
Build a 35,000-seat domed football stadium, where the containers and flat cars now sit. And while we're at it, construct a giant parkade for the stadium. Then, connect it all with a pedestrian bridge that starts at Casino Regina and ends at the front doors of bars and restaurants on Dewdney Avenue.
Pay for it with a combination of public and private money.
Premier Brad Wall, want to do something really, really big for Regina, something NDP governments for years have failed to do?
Mayor Fiacco, for many you are establishing a stellar legacy as mayor, but do you want your legacy to be a knockout instead of split decision?
And no, this isn't so much pie-in-the-sky dreaming for a city the size of Regina. The cities of Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota -- cities half the size of Regina -- have indoor football stadiums for Division II and Division I university teams respectively.
The Alerus Center in Grand Forks, completed in 2001, cost $80 million US. It seats 13,500 for football and 21,000 for concerts. It measures 447,000 square feet, about 10 acres. It also features a Canad Inns hotel and waterpark complex right next door.
The Fargodome is older and bigger. Completed in 1992, for $48 million US, it seats 19,000 for football and 25,000 for concerts. At 466,000 square feet, the Fargodome takes up about 11 acres. And it's more than a football stadium. It has an artificial ice plant under the turf, and moveable seats, so the building can host hockey games and basketball games. It's also a concert venue. Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Chesney and AC/DC are some of the big names that have sung under the dome's metal roof.
Although the Fargodome cost North Dakotans almost $50 million (a half-percentage point sales tax raised a lot of the capital money), in 10 years the building had returned $132 million in direct economic spin-off to the city and another $320 million in secondary benefits to the state.
Regina needs a bigger and newer version of the Fargodome.
Think about it. No more concerns about how bitterly cold Regina might be at Grey Cup time in November. No more thanks but no thanks, your hockey rink is too small for a Memorial Cup. How about setting a record as 30,000 curling fans watch a Brier final -- something only Saskatchewan could do? How about getting John Mellencamp or Rascal Flatts instead of losing out again to Saskatoon?
There are practical concerns that support a new domed stadium as well.
Mosaic Stadium is 80 years old and some Rider and city officials privately admit it is really showing its age -- in a bad way. How smart would it be to spend $10 million to expand the CFL's most antiquated stadium, a facility that can't compete in today's multi-faceted entertainment world? And forget about sentimental value. That argument left the building when sponsorship dollars arrived and the longtime name, Taylor Field, was sacrificed.
The Brandt Centre, home of the Regina Pats, is 30 years old and it doesn't make much sense to make major structural changes to it either. Besides, the Pats don't really want a hockey rink that seats more than 7,000 -- what many consider the perfect size for the Western Hockey League -- except for marquee events like the Memorial Cup or the world junior hockey championship. A new multi-purpose dome could play host to those types of events.
Perhaps, the biggest argument for a domed football stadium is the one concerning downtown Regina's future.
In the last 30 years, various U.S. and Canadian cities -- communities as different as San Francisco and Winnipeg -- have built downtown football, baseball, basketball or hockey stadiums as a way to keep their city centres relevant and vibrant. (In the last 15 years, St. Louis has built three -- one each for football, hockey and baseball.)
One city that didn't build downtown, Saskatoon, now largely regrets it. Except for the expanse of parking northwest Saskatoon provides, there isn't any other reason for the home of the Saskatoon Blades to sit in a field in the howling Prairie wind like some gargantuan pig barn.
Regina can -- and must -- do better.
A medium-sized, multi-purpose football dome would give Rider fans the venue they deserve, would allow the city to compete for major events and concerts, and would be the centrepiece -- quite literally -- of one big, vibrant downtown.
Dream big, Regina, and many of us will love you even more.
I strongly believed in those words in 2007, when I first wrote them. And now, I believe in them more than ever.
Another step closer to a domed stadium for Regina
Rob Vanstone, Leader-Post July 20, 2009
REGINA — A dome deal sounds like a done deal. Nobody said as much during Monday morning's media conference, at which it was announced that up to $1 million will be spent to explore the feasibility of a multi-purpose, all-season entertainment complex in downtown Regina. But it certainly feels like the often formidable Saskatchewan winds are blowing in the direction of an indoor stadium.
Representatives of three levels of government, along with Saskatchewan Roughriders chairman Rob Pletch, asserted that Monday's announcement is merely one step in the process.
"Today's announcement is an exciting one for the City of Regina, for the Province of Saskatchewan, but make no mistake about it — no decisions have been made on a new facility," Saskatchewan Enterprise Minister Ken Cheveldayoff stated at the Hotel Saskatchewan Radisson Plaza.
"We have to do the study. We have to examine all aspects. We have to know every facet of what we're talking about. We recognize that Mosaic Stadium is nearing its 100th birthday and has served us well, but something needs to be done.''
That "something,'' according to the primary recommendation emanating from an initial concept review, is the construction of a multi-purpose covered stadium at an estimated price tag of $350 million. That review was a precursor to a more expensive feasibility study, which is to focus on the domed option. Notable by its exclusion is a detailed exploration of the practicality of an open-air stadium, with an estimated cost of $190 million.
"The idea of a stand-alone, single-use facility just doesn't make sense anymore,'' Mayor Pat Fiacco said. "Those days are over.''
When the media conference was over, it was difficult to emerge from the stately hotel's Blue Lounge without viewing the dome as an inevitability, and the feasibility study as a formality.
Otherwise, why all the fuss?
Monday was, in the opinions of Fiacco and Cheveldayoff, an "exciting day.'' Normally, the disclosure of a feasibility study would generate as much excitement as the announcement of a Bay City Rollers reunion. Monday's event had an entirely different flavour, even though some cautionary notes were sounded.
"It's really important that we get the results of the feasibility study,'' Fiacco emphasized. "We should not assume anything right now.''
OK, let's not assume anything. Let's just rewind to one of Fiacco's opening comments: "This announcement is about asking the question, 'What if . . . ?' ''
What if three levels of government and the Roughriders were represented at a major media conference and much of the time was dedicated to discussing the advantages of a domed stadium over an open-air complex or a renovation of the extant facility?
And what if they had to hold another media conference in, say, February to announce that the feasibility study recommended against construction of a dome? How, then, do they effectively tout a scaled-down model after building up hopes for a lavish structure that seemed unimaginable a few years ago?
Would our elected officials really set themselves up for the kind of furious backpedalling that is required of a CFL cornerback?
Politicians are hardly immune to vacillation, but an announcement of anything but a dome would be quite an about-face after listening to everyone on Monday.
The other point to consider is that the arguments advanced during the announcement are sensible, despite the potential mammoth expenditure.
"As much as we all love the Green and White, we recognize that any new facility will be about much more than just football, and be available for use year-round, not just six months of the year,'' Cheveldayoff said.
Therein lies the most compelling argument in favour of a dome. If you are going to spend nine figures, the benefits should be derived throughout the year.
Even a full-scale renovation of Mosaic Stadium, at a projected cost of $109 million, would merely delay its obsolescence by 10 to 15 years.
The next tier in pricing is $190 million for a new outdoor facility. How attractive would it look while gathering snow?
That leaves the dome option as the most feasible — especially when you consider the possible ancillary benefits for a downtown core that could use a catalyst for additional revitalization.
Even now, at this preliminary stage, it almost seems tangible.
Domed stadium to be studied for downtown Regina
Angela Hall, Leader-Post July 20, 2009
REGINA — The possibility of a domed stadium in downtown Regina is now the subject of a $1-million feasibility study that will take six months to complete.
With three levels of government and the Saskatchewan Roughriders providing funding, experts will consider all possible uses for a covered facility that could cost more than $350 million to build, Enterprise Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said at a news conference.
The study will also look at the potential for a retractable roof.
“As much as we all love the green and white ... we recognize that any facility will be about much more than just football and available for use year round not just six months of the year,” said Cheveldayoff.
“Once their study is completed, we will be in a much better position to make a decision on the possibility of an all-weather multi-use facility.”
However, Cheveldayoff also said some stadium changes are in order, noting Mosaic Stadium dates back to 1910.
The facility could be located at the current site of the CP rail yards, which are expected to relocate to the planned transportation hub on the city’s western fringes.
Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco said a stadium in the place of the current CP yards would spark development between Saskatchewan Drive and Dewdney Avenue, and could also eventually lead to a new neighbourhood in the area where the current Mosaic Stadium stands.
“This is about so much more than a facility. It has potential to be an urban redevelopment on a scale never seen in our city,” Fiacco said.
“Imagine if this facility was available year round for conventions, trade shows, cultural events, artistic performances and sports.”
The anticipated No.1 tenant — the Saskatchewan Roughriders — also welcomed a study into a domed facility, maintaining such a project is needed as other CFL cities make upgrades to their stadiums.
“This is the environment in which we as your football club have to go out and try to find and retain coaches, and key players and retain our fan support base,” said Roughriders board chairman Rob Pletch.
“We need to maintain our competitive level and this opportunity presents itself as an ideal one to do that.”
The decision to proceed with the feasibility study comes in the wake of a $70,000 concept review paid for by the government, and released in part on Monday. The review, conducted by consultants Bill Shupe and Rob Giberson, recommended a covered stadium as the preferred option, rather than minor renovations to Mosaic Stadium, a major overhaul of the existing stadium, or a new outdoor facility.
The review said a major redevelopment of Mosaic Stadium would cost $109 million over five years, but would do little to increase the economic impact currently generated by the facility. An open air stadium could cost $190 million, but would have little potential to revitalize the downtown because it would sit unused during the winter months, the review said.
An all-weather 38,000 seat stadium — with potential to expand to 50,000 or more — could be constructed over three to four years for around $350 million, not including land costs or other construction costs for items such as a practice field and overhead walkways. But the report said it could be a tourism draw, be in use all year and have an annual economic impact ranging from $27 million to $90 million, based on the experience of the FargoDome in North Dakota.
More precise costs estimates will be pinned down in the feasibility study. Stadium Consultants International (SCI) and Global Spectrum have been contracted to do much of the work, while PCL will provide input on costs.
“We have roughly a six month timeline to deliver a fairly sophisticated schematic design concept,” said Chris O’Reilly, principal with SCI, adding the company is working with various engineers, including specialists who can look at the retractable roof option.
“We’re going to do floor plans, building cross-sections, we’re going to analyze all the different mechanical/electrical systems that you would have to put in a facility of this nature. We’ll do some 3-D renderings inside and out. We’ll give you a very clear picture of how spectacular this facility could be,” said O’Reilly, who noted parking issues and how the facility could tie in with the existing downtown will also be part of the work.
The province and the federal government, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, are funding most of the feasibility work by each picking up 40 per cent of the tab. The City and the Roughriders are each paying 10 per cent.
An advisory committee has also been struck, consisting of MPs Gerry Ritz and Andrew Scheer, Cheveldayoff, Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation Minister Bill Hutchinson, Fiacco and Pletch.
Downtown stadium favoured -- with the right game plan
The Leader-Post July 21, 2009
The University of Phoenix Stadium was one of several eyed by a study of options for a Regina facility.
It could be "game on" for a domed stadium in the heart of Regina's downtown.
If the pieces fall into place for a $350-million all-season, multipurpose entertainment facility, construction could be completed in time to make the 2013 Grey Cup a spectacular national showcase for the stadium . . . and this city.
Lest we all get giddy at the prospect, we need to remember that in football parlance, there's a lot of yardage to be covered before that goal is reached, starting with the $1-million feasibility study that was announced Monday.
Jointly financed by the federal and provincial governments, the City of Regina and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the study by three consulting companies is tasked with reporting back in six months on everything from design concepts and construction costs to long-term economic viability and who'd pay for the project.
If the numbers add up, the project could be under way by this time next year. But if serious drawbacks emerge -- such as a shaky business plan -- it's back to the drawing board.
It should come as little surprise that the initial $70,000 study by the Saskatchewan government into options for renovating or replacing the aging Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field firmly recommended building a new, all-weather facility. The other three options are not attractive: - The "minor" essential renovations the facility needs would cost $1 million-$6 million, but would have little economic impact on the city. It's a short-term fix for a stadium that would remain in use only six months of the year.
- A "major" redevelopment of the current stadium would cost $109 million over five years and would "defer the need to make a replacement decision for 10-15 years". However, $109 million is a lot of money to spend on maintaining the status quo -- a football facility. And it would merely delay a replacement decision to a time when the province's fortunes might not be as good as they are now.
- Building a new open-air stadium would cost $190 million, plus land. Spending that kind of money makes even less sense since it would just be a new version of the current facility -- an outdoor football field.
In contrast, a new 38,000-seat covered stadium (expandable to 50,000-plus) would be a facility that could meet a wide range of community needs, not just those of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It could, for example, be a venue for "A List" entertainment, provincial and national conventions and trade shows as well as a wide range of sporting events. And unlike the other three options, the consultants say an all-weather stadium would offer "substantial economic impact during construction and from ongoing operations".
In addition, a new covered stadium would free up the Mosaic Stadium site for redevelopment by the City of Regina.
Though smaller than the proposed Regina stadium, the consultants cite the success of the 27,700-seat FargoDome in North Dakota, built in 1992, which has turned an operating profit every year in a community of 175,000.
To be sure, some big issues must be resolved on the Regina project, from parking space to heavy traffic on event days. Biggest issue of all is finding multiple private-sector partners to help share the cost with governments.
That said, there likely will never be a better time than now to revitalize downtown Regina with a facility of national stature in which the whole province could take pride.
My thoughts on the Regina Dome,
First, the city CMA maybe up to 250 000 (I threw Moose Jaw in) or 1/4 the population of Calgary/Edmonton and 1/2 to 1/3 the CMA of Winnipeg. The connections by Air aren't as good, though that might change, by road are the same, no rail. We are economically and geographically isolated although this is being addressed with airport expansion and HUB creation. The size of the facility and our geographic position/ surroundings don't add up.
Second, the main tennant Roughriders are probably more popular than ever but that has fluctuated in the past. More important, the CFL is strong now but regardless of how well the Riders do failure in Toronto due to NFL competition-subsequent loss of TV interest could destroy the league as we know it. The Leader Post recently said more than 50% of CFL merchandise comes from the Riders. Because we're doing well doesn't insure the league is or will in the future.
Third, although the football field turf is perfect for the Riders it doesn't allow for other sports. Soccer locally could be played on it but exibition games are probablly the only chance for some kind of professional soccer, but the market isn't large enough, and the very large clubs in Europe could attract people from the praries but they wont play on a artificial surface. Canadian national team wont come and Rugby is out. From the executive summery report, baseball looked like it would need some modification of the playing surface to be wider than necessary for just football and again not a market or venue for anything greater than A baseball and I'd doubt A could have a proper go. Hockey, maybe, but what about cooling the space effectively for an exhibition game be worth it? Basketball doesn't fit, although again at a local level I can imagine like 8 courts for some kind of event/tournament.
Forth, Tradeshows are very important to fill the calendars of the other major Canadian domes- go to their websites to check them out- I could imagine a fair few car-boat-home/garden-cottage-RV type events but it seems our market may not support the largest of them and I question how much will be just stealing off the Exhibition Grounds.
Fifth Concerts, Full field concerts will be few and far between just because those acts are few and far between. U2, the Who, Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Led Zepplin, Paul McCartney, Springstien with Tom Petty maybe The Egales, Billy Joel. I'm running out and the last few would have to be package deals to get nearly 50 000 people to come to Regina. Again, this would likely depend on other prarie cities not hosting the same act on that tour. I can imagine most concerts requiring half a field and then it gets interesting because the capacity is comparble to a saddle dome, rexall, ACC. While this sounds good, again it become more likely the cities around us still are on the tour and the numbers go down. Also different sounds that don't a have a broad appeal might not attract the numbers. For example, AC/DC is an event and they're popular enough through the generations that there are many fans and many will go just because it is the ticket, the party in town to be at. Would Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down or Radiohead attract 20 000 in Saskatchewan? I'm not convinced, but probably a Kanye West, No Doubt or Red Hot Chilli Peppers could work half a dome in the Sask market, but we'd be competing with S'Toon for some of those. The best facility for concerts would be a multi-purpose room attached with good accoustics that could hold 1500-2000 +. Use it as a ballroom style, with lots of smaller banquets and conventions for the day and at night it would provide a venue for bands but again do bands fly over because of venues or just because of lack of demand outside major markets?
Sixth, 350 million is a lot even by current stadium standards, look around at europe or north america and most stadia, even ones much larger are less or similar in cost. 350 doesn't include parking, land cost/servicing or the walkways/connections to link different projects-possible hotels- or areas (downtown). The project seems much more expensive now than recent ones and no costing has been provided. Parking and traffic is a major concern for downtown. For rider games I can imagine park and ride solutions using the exhibition grounds or malls and busing in. But there will have to be parking for various other events at different times. I wish it weren't so, but this is a driving city/region, although building up the casino lot or extensive underground/parking strcutures or probably a combination of those options with a park and ride might get the job done.
Seventh, I am a little concerned with the economic determinism in the pro side. I have no doubt such a facility will bring more, probably not that much more, dollers into Regina but so far the bars and Casino have been the most obvious benificiaries but is that what the city wants to become, 'Regina, come for the dome, stay for the binge drinking and gambling.' I foresee Dewdney Ave becoming like a Redmile or Oilermile complete with rowdy unpradictable crowds and rampant alcoholism. Every game because that's likely the front door to the stadium. Casino connections aren't for those under 19, or will laws change or special areas be created. Where do the buses leave to/from if the north street is full of people off to the entertainment district after the game? It is important that we understand how much this realigns the city, it's focal points, and where activity could potentialy take place.
Lastly, the process of releasing the report and starting a feasability study on the same day, the lack of any time to think or debate. The executive summary realeased by the government has no costing, no way to confirm the numbers and no public in put. That said CTV news Regina did an online poll and found 69% were for. Not scientific, but there seems to be broad support of 55-60% range for the dome.
Everything together suggests to me this is a risky throw of the dice to make Regina into some hot new spot. It is bold, and very much inline with the bosterism that the city fathers and new gov't believe in. I don't think it'll work well. I think the space could be used to increase residency downtown and link the warehouse district to downtown with a network of shoping streets with residences above. Time will tell.