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Saskatoon reveals arena design concepts, launches public consultation

Saskatoon City Council has revealed initial design concepts and has launched a public consultation for a new arena that would be the focal point of the future Downtown Event & Entertainment District in the Canadian city.

Council approved at a Monday meeting a report outlining a detailed technical study of potential downtown locations for a new event centre/arena. Artistic illustrations of the two potential sites presented at the meeting have now been made publicly available.

“We have a chance to make decisions that will shape the downtown and the city for the next 50 years and beyond,” said Mayor Charlie Clark. “The illustrations give people an idea of what the District could look like and how exciting and dynamic this will be. A lot of the design detail will still need to be worked out ultimately by architects, partners, and working with the community. These are simply possible concepts.” 

Five different site options for the downtown event centre/arena were initially studied to determine if they were a suitable size for a modern event facility, with a capacity comparable to the circa 15,000-seat existing SaskTel Centre.

Sites determined to be too small were eliminated from further consideration, while the remaining sites were ranked in accordance with nine evaluation criteria. After studying the evaluation criteria, two sites were considered viable options – the Midtown Shopping Centre North Parking Lot (main image) and North Downtown/City Yards (secondary image).

A process to analyse the potential replacement of SaskTel Centre, which opened in February 1988, first commenced in April 2016. Of the two sites now identified, the Midtown location received the highest score from consultants, but is not owned by the city. However, the city-owned North Downtown/City Yards site is considered more costly to develop.

Council also approved an engagement plan which commenced yesterday (Tuesday) and will run through to October 3. Public engagement on the two locations was not possible until the Midtown north parking lot was available following lengthy real estate discussions. 

“This was probably the most complex land negotiations in the City’s history,” said Dan Willems, the Council’s director of technical services. “Engaging prior to the conclusion of negotiations would have significantly reduced the opportunity for the City to secure conditional purchase agreements within a competitive market price range.”  

Results of the consultation will be shared publicly and presented to City Council in November to be considered as part of the final decision on the location for the future event centre/arena site. 

The event centre/arena site and surrounding area, will be developed as a shared public space. Coupled with a convention centre, it will act as an anchor for the rest of the District development. The future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will connect the District to the entire city.

“We already know that many more people travel from outside Saskatoon for concerts and events, and we want to continue to offer those events and opportunities for all of us to enjoy well into the future,” said Councillor Troy Davies, co-chair of the Downtown Event & Entertainment District Advisory Group.

“This will be a game changer for Saskatoon and the province — we are building this facility for our kids and grandkids.”

Living Sky Sports and Entertainment, which was last year awarded exclusive rights to launch a Canadian Premier League soccer franchise in Saskatoon, in June revealed new renderings of a planned stadium at Prairieland Park in the south of the city.

The multi-use facility is projected to cost C$28m (£18.38m/€21.37m/$21.36m) and it is hoped that the stadium can open by 2024. The Saskatoon franchise would be the first CPL team in the province of Saskatchewan.

Images: Saskatoon City Council