A new 4,000-seat stadium is being lined up for Saskatoon after the city was awarded rights for a Canadian Premier League expansion franchise.
The CPL has awarded exclusive expansion rights to Saskatchewan-based company Living Sky Sports and Entertainment (LSSE). The launch of a club in Saskatoon is contingent upon LSSE delivering a soccer-specific stadium to CPL standards.
LSSE has identified Prairieland Park in Saskatoon as its preferred destination for a new stadium. The site is located in the Exhibition neighbourhood in the southeast of the city and offers a range of event facilities.
The addition of a Saskatoon franchise would increase the number of CPL teams to nine. The team would become the first CPL franchise in the province of Saskatchewan.
LSSE founder Alan Simpson, a lifelong Saskatchewan resident, will lead the effort to deliver the club. The LSSE ownership group may further include founding partners and community partners.
CPL commissioner David Clanachan said: “On behalf of the Board of Governors, we are pleased to make this announcement today as we know we have a very supportive and engaged community of soccer fans in Saskatchewan and have since we launched the league.
“We are extremely hopeful that LSSE will be able to meet the league soccer-specific stadium requirements so that we can begin celebrating Canadian soccer in Saskatoon.”
Simpson added: “We are excited about being part of the Canadian Premier League’s expansion plans for Saskatchewan. Signing the Agreement in Principle gives us the opportunity to bring the CPL and professional soccer to the province.
“By acquiring the exclusive rights to a CPL expansion club, we can immediately begin work on our first task, which is the development and financing of a soccer-ready stadium, suitable to CPL league wide standards, but more importantly, begin supporting the dream many Canadian kids have of playing pro soccer in their own province and country.
“We think Prairieland Park in Saskatoon is an ideal location for a stadium – it already possesses many key attributes that would contribute to the long-term viability of a pro soccer team in Saskatchewan.”
Mark Regier, chief executive of Prairieland Park, said that while it has not come to a definitive answer on the stadium project, it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with LSSE.
“The signing of the MOU, therefore, marks the end of thoroughbred racing at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon,” said Regier. “We feel it is our responsibility to embrace the possibility of new opportunities and address the rapid pace of change in our core businesses and services. We look forward to working with LSSE to understand whether a stadium at Prairieland is in our best long-term interests.”
No specific timeline has been set for the construction of the stadium but Simpson told CanPL.ca that LSSE would like to be “part of the league and playing in 2023”.
Image: Canadian Premier League