Do it Regina, do it right and get that Dome! It will make Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg
insanely jealous. Add a casino and slot machines to make it more viable.
Maybe now you can host MNT friendlies, even in winter. Or get a USL-1 team.
It seems as if Regina has other reasons for a dome besides the Riders. However, as a CFL fan, I'd hate to go to a game on a lovely day in August or September and have to spend the whole time indoors. Even a late October evening home game (under the current coach I mustn't dare dream of playoffs) barely above freezing has a certain appeal.
In other words, if there is a roof, it should retract.
I think this is going to be built, but I really don’t think the need is there.
I agree with much of mcaout is saying. I don’t see that many concerts or trade shows really coming here. Centres that are a lot bigger don’t have that many dates used for their domes. The list of bands that play stadium shows are dwindling. And the ones who do, you wonder how many people are going to pay $100 to sit a mile away to see some of these acts.
As far as expanding the capacity of Taylor Field. The Riders gutted the south end zone, took out Hemorrhoid Hill and put in VIP tents and a bigger scoreboard. Standing room used to be pushed to 33,000 if needed. Now they have a hard cap at 28,800. With the temporary bleachers it’s up to 30,945.
It would be very easy to get it up to 35,000 with minimal expansion in the south end zone where there’s plenty of room. They’ve expanded the stadium to 55,000 twice to host the Grey Cup.
For me capacity isn’t a convincing argument. I remember the mid-to-late 90s well when 24,000 was a good crowd and the only sell out came on Labour Day. Rider fans are good fans, but you miss the playoffs for a few seasons and the Riders may not be the in thing to do. I don’t know if the franchise has turned a corner with the mass merchandizing, constant sell-outs and wall-to-wall Ridermania on game days, but we’re not far removed from a third empty Taylor Field. Right now people I know who didn’t give a crap about the Riders in the 90s paint themselves green and tailgate for every game and I don’t know if that’s just what success brings or if there’s lasting behind it.
I agree with Jonovision that the dome has to retract. Despite appareances, the weather is usually fantastic (if windy) for Rider games. They play a lot of weekend day games. I can really only think of two or three legitimately sub-zero regular season games in the last 20 years. A dome would actually be a detriment to the Riders if it wasn’t able to be open on game days IMO.
I guess the bottom line is that this thing is being pushed through hard by civic leaders and I think it will happen and I think the location is an excellent one.
I don’t think the Riders need a new stadium and I don’t think the ancillary benefits are nowhere near what people are making them out to be. I don’t really see this being of any benefit for a USL soccer team (35-40k is too big IMO) or for national team games, but who knows.
It's time for Ottawa to step up
If all goes as it should, Ottawa will enjoy a nice little growth spurt today.
It will take another step toward becoming a legitimate, big-league city — a claim it cannot truly make with just one professional team.
When completed, the movement would be significant enough to knock Eugene Melnyk from his pedestal as the Top Owner In Town —when the gauge being used is the one that determines which proprietor is providing the most nights out for local sports fans.
A yes vote by city council in support of Lansdowne Live! today — and the rubber stamp of approval after 30 days of public consultation — and that distinction would soon belong to the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group.
Gotta figure it’s just another reason for Melnyk to be quietly praying for a ‘no’ and the dusting off of his Major League Soccer plans.
City council should be overwhelmed today by the plans of Jeff Hunt, John Ruddy, Roger Greenberg and Bill Shenkman to turn Lansdowne Park, a prime piece of real estate, into a jewel by the canal. That would pave the way for Ottawa to have a CFL team and a United Soccer Leagues team by 2012, and Hunt to host the 30 home games those two franchises would play along with the 34 dates which his 67’s occupy the Civic Centre.
Word that a USL-1 franchise would be Ottawa’s if OSEG gets the green light to proceed should be an influencing factor in today’s vote.
Back when the city was torn between going after a CFL team or a MLS team, an EKOS poll was conducted on behalf of the Hunt group. It showed 43% in favour of football and 42% in favour of soccer. Toss a coin.
Now the sports fan can have his cake and eat it, too. In a great neighbourhood.
The Hunt group wanted that to be the case originally, but Melnyk was not interested in setting up an MLS franchise at Lansdowne. The USL-1 is a half step behind the MLS.
“On average, an MLS team would beat a USL-1 team,” said John Pugh, the owner of the Ottawa Fury who yesterday formally joined OSEG’s soccer division. “But the gap is not that great. USL-1 is really good soccer.”
It’s also very affordable soccer, with an expansion fee price tag at $750,000 — or $39.25 million less than what it costs to purchase a MLS franchise.
Pugh’s assessment and EKOS poll findings notwithstanding, pro soccer in Ottawa needs a trial period.
Who didn’t think the city would continue to support a Triple-A baseball franchise in a pretty little park, right?
Reports indicate there are 50,000 registered soccer players in Eastern Ontario, from youth leagues to adult leagues, and 90,000 people are actively involved in the sport from the same region and including Western Quebec.
But how many people would show up for USL games in Ottawa on a regular basis?
The Montreal franchise averages around 12,000-13,000, while Rochester draws about 7,000. Pugh will only guess that an Ottawa team would “be in the mix” with those attendance figures.
“The 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup was probably a landmark in terms of soccer in Ottawa,” he said, referring to the exceptional event and the 26,000 fans at some of the games. “Fans reacted to wonderful soccer.”
Pugh thinks touring European teams, a friendly featuring David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy and Nutrilite Canadian Championship games would have similar results. It would not surprise him if every one of the 24,000-25,000 seats in the new Lansdowne stadium would be filled.
“Every time we’ve put something in front of the fans, they’ve showed up,” he said.
If soccer takes off like it could —and with Hunt and his Dream Team in charge, there’s no reason to doubt that it will — Ottawa might only have a USL-1 team for a couple of years.
If it’s successful, OSEG could conceivably chase a MLS franchise next.
It’s a natural progression, just as today is the time to take another step forward in the nation capital’s development.
Lansdowne group bids for soccer team
Sun Media 2nd September 2009
There may be both pro soccer and pro football in Ottawa after all.
Soccer fans who were disappointed city council chose a proposal to back a stadium for a CFL team at Lansdowne instead of an MLS team in Kanata could soon have a United Soccer Leagues team to cheer.
The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which presents its vision for Lansdowne Park to council Wednesday, has formally applied for a USL Division 1 team to share Frank Clair Stadium with its conditional CFL franchise.
“From a business standpoint, professional soccer is a tremendous asset for the stadium,” said Jeff Hunt, owner of the 67’s and an OSEG partner. “We’ll have as many as 20 dates for soccer, 10 for CFL football and, potentially, dates for Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees football, along with outdoor stadium concerts.”
The cost of the USL franchise is $750,000 US, compared with the $40 million US Eugene Melnyk and Senators Sports & Entertainment was prepared to pay for an MLS franchise at a proposed stadium beside Scotiabank Place.
The USL appears receptive to Ottawa’s bid.
“We’ve received an application from very serious, credible group with a successful track record in sports,” said USL executive vice-president and COO Tim Holt Tuesday. “We’re very excited about working with them in the months ahead.”
Holt said if and when Ottawa gets a franchise will depend on when the stadium is ready. Hunt said if council accepts the Lansdowne proposal, both football and soccer teams could be in the stadium by 2012.
The USL-1 — which is considered one tier below the MLS — is expanding into Tampa and Long Island, N.Y., in 2010, bringing the number of teams to 13. Holt said there is “significant interest from other cities” for future expansion franchises.
But that doesn’t mean the MLS team is out of the running, said Cyril Leeder, president of Senators Sports & Entertainment and the man who spearheaded the Kanata stadium proposal.
“We’ve looked at USL previously but we’re really focussed on MLS. It’s not going to change our view that MLS is the top brand of soccer in North America,” said Leeder. “We still believe we have the best proposal, which is to build a soccer-specific stadium not at Lansdowne and renovate Lansdowne to be a special people place. But council decided to go in a different direction so we’ll see how that goes.”
Council will vote Wednesday on whether to send the Lansdowne proposal to 30 days of public consultation. It will then vote on whether to proceed with the plan.
If council rejects the Lansdowne plan, it may turn to the SS&E proposal waiting on the back burner.
“There is a window for us to get a franchise, and if they go ahead with Lansdowne that will probably move that window,” said Leeder. “It would delay that for a period of time until we can have another stadium. I don’t think Ottawa is ready for that now.”
The USL’s lower-level divisions for elite player development include the Premier Development League (U23 men’s North American amateur) and the W-League (women’s North American amateur), which are already established in Ottawa as part of the Ottawa Fury organization.
Asper gets one-year stadium extension
Paul Friesen, SUN MEDIA 1st October 2009
A rendering of what the next Bombers stadium should look like when it is finally built, based on images posted on www.blueandgold.ca (HANDOUT)
David Asper has another full year to get his plans for a new stadium on track.
The Winnipeg Blue Bomber board of directors has granted Asper a 12-month extension to their agreement to build a new stadium at the University of Manitoba.
The extension, first reported by the Sun last month, comes as Asper struggles to secure the retail lease commitments he needs at the Polo Park site in order to begin construction of the new facility.
“Even though the recession has slowed our progress, we have made solid advances in attracting the interest of leading retailers,” Asper said in a statement yesterday, adding he’s as focused as ever on completing the project.
Asper’s initial deadline called for him to secure the lease commitments by the end of September.
The delay means the timeline for the approximately $135-million project — including Asper’s taking over ownership of the community-owned franchise — will be pushed back a year.
Asper was poised to take over the team as early as February 2010.
The Bombers are now projected to be playing in their new home during the 2012 season, if the deal goes forward.
Asper's grand plan
Another year to deliver big tenants, U of M stadium
ROSS ROMANIUK, SUN MEDIA
A retail play book, of sorts, for David Asper's drive to score Winnipeg a new football stadium was publicly unveiled yesterday, though the clock is ticking on the business magnate's dream.
Asper, heir apparent to ownership of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, has another year to sign at least a couple of big corporate players to anchor a Polo Park shopping complex that would finance the new facility.
And if that plan fails, immediate hopes for the new stadium at the University of Manitoba will likely be sidelined.
Following a one-year extension granted by the CFL team's board, Asper has unveiled designs for The Elms Collection -- the 650,000-sq.-ft. upscale shopping complex he's planning for the 24-acre site of Canad Inns Stadium, once that venue is demolished under his proposal.
"It's the trend in retail," Asper said of the open-air "lifestyle centre" whose revenue would pay for construction of the U of M stadium, and for operation of the Winnipeg Football Club.
"The idea is to create basically a little village, where you can walk around in a high degree of safety -- light and open -- and the walkways are all going to be covered. They've got heaters in them -- so no snow or ice. And easy parking -- valet if you want to use it. There will be a centre court with programming."
Creswin Properties Inc., a development firm affiliated with the Asper family, has "letters of intent" signed by two major U.S. retailers which would become anchor tenants.
However, because of what Bomber chairman Ken Hildahl described as the "softer" economy of the past year, the firms -- Asper refused to name them -- are continuing to study the Winnipeg market before signing leases necessary to make the Elms project, and the $135-million stadium development, viable.
The Bomber board's previous deadline of this past Wednesday has been extended to the end of September next year.
"But with that comes an obligation on Creswin to really start mapping the future out, and showing people where this is going," Hildahl said, adding Asper's progress on the retail strategy, and its layout designs, are "encouraging" in pushing the plan forward.
"This actually shows in fairly good, graphic detail, how it's going to present itself and what it's going to do for the city. And it really does add to the excitement in the project."
The delay pushes the opening of the 30,000- to 40,000-seat campus stadium -- which the Bombers and U of M Bisons would share -- back at least a year to 2012.
Provincial and federal funding commitments of $20 million and $15 million, respectively, remain on the table for the project, which is also slated to build and upgrade U of M athletic facilities.
Asper stressed that he wants more than "the usual suspects" among retailers, to finance the best possible stadium for Blue Bomber fans.
"We had a vision, and we're going after it," he said at Canad Inns Stadium.
"We could have developed a lesser shopping centre on this site that would have delivered lesser revenue, that would have yielded a lesser facility. And one thing has been absolutely clear from all the fans -- what we've said from the beginning: Do it right, and do it once. Get it right the first time."
Say goodbye to Ivor Wynne
Howard Elliott The Hamilton Spectator November 02, 2009
It's not going to be easy, but it is time to let go. Ivor Wynne Stadium is one of the great old football stadiums in the country. It's rich in history. It's quirky and has more personality than a suburban stadium could ever have.
But Ivor Wynne's assets are outweighed by its issues, the chief being it needs $18 million to $20 million in revitalization just to maintain the status quo. Given its location, lack of ability to grow and its lack of multi-use potential, the grand old icon has too many minuses.
Hamilton, and the Tiger-Cats, need a new stadium. Now, the question is where, and how.
City staff are developing a business plan that recognizes this reality, and there are several tough questions that need to be answered in the process.
One, clearly, is location. The city recently acquired land on the west Harbour, site of the former Rheem Canada plant. The suitability of that location has pluses and minuses, but is bound to be hotly contested in the months to come. A key in that discussion will be the outcome of the Golden Horseshoe Pan Am Games bid, scheduled to be announced this Friday. Some civic leaders favour the waterfront, but others argue for a greenfield site where parking, access and expansion won't be issues to the same extent. If the games bid is successful, Hamilton will end up with a 15,000-seat track and field facility at minimum, presumably at that location.
15,000 seat artist conception
The Tiger-Cat organization prefers an alternative location, so clearly there's work to be done to reach consensus if the overall objective is a large multi-use facility that could first serve the Games, and then be a community legacy for the city and Tiger-Cats.
30,000 seat artist conception
Another central point is public funding. The city has already committed $60 million in support for the Games, should the bid be successful. If the bid doesn't win, that money could be diverted and used toward the cost of a new stadium.
But that won't be a universally popular position. Some will argue a sports/entertainment venue should not be a priority for that kind of public investment, especially in these times. That's a discussion that needs to be had, but at this point we'd maintain our historically held position that strategic public investment in infrastructure projects, such as a new stadium, is sound public policy. The payoff may not be entirely tangible, in terms of economic spinoff. But Hamilton needs a modern, functional multi-use facility of this sort. We would also argue that investment is better coming from senior levels of government as opposed to local, so the impact on the tax base is spread beyond the already strained local tax base.
Significant private investment needs to come into play as well, from stakeholders that would certainly include the Tiger-Cats but might include others, such as firms with facility-management expertise.
There are as many questions as there are answers at this point. But development of a creative and collaborative plan is a sensible start. And a new facility is the way to go, as opposed to expensive and ultimately impractical new investment in our dear old stadium.
Editorials are written by members of the editorial board. They represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the individual author.
While being somewhat disappointed by this conception, I'm somewhat tempered by the fact that Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton started as a 40,000 seat stadium and expanded to over 61,000 and was refurbished to it's present sub 60,000 seats. So depending on how the expansion design looks it may not be too bad. - JM
No way is that first rendering 15k, just 2k more than current capacity at SS.