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Bombers nearing new ownership, stadium

By Steve Lambert, THE CANADIAN PRESS

WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are on their way to a new stadium and private ownership under media mogul David Asper.

Asper, along with representatives of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, announced a deal Thursday to build a 30,000-seat stadium by the summer of 2011 on the University of Manitoba campus in the city's south end. It will replace the 55-year-old Canad Inns stadium west of downtown.

The deal will see the community-owned club taken over by Asper's real estate company, Creswin Properties Limited - a move that Asper admits has some fans worried.

"Their concern is that somehow their asset will be violated and I'm not in it do to that," said Asper, who is also executive vice-president of CanWest Global Communications Corp. "I'm in it to turn it into something bigger and better.

"When I've gone back and forth with fans who are critical of that, I've said to them 'Give me a chance, let me prove myself ... cause I think you're going to like what you're going to see'."

For the Bombers' board, which guided the club out of debt over the past decade with help from the Manitoba government, the transition to private ownership is the logical next step. The agreement requires the football club to remain in Winnipeg "in perpetuity" and reverts ownership to a community board in the event of financial failure.

"We as a board are very satisfied that the financial mechanisms are in place to ensure that professional football in Winnipeg ... will continue," said Ken Hildahl, chairman of the Bombers board of directors.

Asper has been pitching proposals for a new stadium since 2007. His first two ideas - a facility on the existing site and one in a crowded area near downtown - were rejected largely because they required most of the funding to come from various governments.

The new agreement is a complex financial arrangement that will see Asper pay "fair market value" for the current stadium site, which lies in the heart of a major shopping area, and use it for retail development. In exchange, Asper will contribute $100 million to the stadium, which will also be used for amateur sports, and gain ownership of the team.

The stadium will be expandable to 45,000 seats for major events such as the Grey Cup, and will also feature a bubble dome capable of covering the field during winter months for community soccer and other activities.

Asper's pitch has gone over well with many football fans, who bemoan the current aging stadium that is renowned for its stiff north winds. The new facility will be more of a bowl structure and offer overhead weather protection for 80 per cent of the seats.

But critics remain. Some fans want a covered stadium that could offer more comfort when the temperature starts dipping below 0 C in October.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation questioned whether Asper will be getting a sweetheart deal on the current site.

"The only way fair market value can be determined is through an open public auction," spokesman Colin Craig said.

Edited by Joe MacCarthy

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Regina residents prefer new stadium

REGINA -- If the majority truly does rule, Regina would be getting either a new stadium or a new-look one.

In a poll conducted for the Leader-Post by Sigma Analytics, more than 75 per cent of 606 respondents said they would like to see Mosaic Stadium — home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, among others — renovated or replaced.

Of that total, building a new stadium earned the highest percentage at 42.5. The next-largest group (28.6 per cent) preferred renovating Mosaic Stadium, 23.9 per cent supported leaving the stadium as it is, 4.6 per cent suggested improvements but were undecided as to the type, and 0.4 per cent preferred abandoning the project due to the costs.

To Mayor Pat Fiacco, the results of the poll were a sign that citizens are at least intrigued with the possibilities.

“Obviously there is an interest, and that’s the feedback I’ve been getting from people in the community when I’m out and about,” Fiacco says. “They think it’s time that we did something. Whether it’s build new or renovate, let’s do something to bring the facility — and our city — forward.”

Rest of article and series

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Little late getting this up but the new Bomber stadium deal looks actually quite good. And not being an Asper fan in any way shape or form I may owe Mr. D. Asper an apology when this is all said and done. He looks to be doing some honest work here. A real civic benefit. But I'll reserve my judgment for now while I wait and see how this all really plays out.

The design looks rock solid. The scheme is coupled with very substantial University athletic improvements (including a long overdue re-fit for Pan-Am Stadium) and when you marry it all to the newly minted indoor soccer complex a couple of hundred yards away the indoor soccer crowd will have gained 8 pitches within three years. And all of it without a hockey board in sight.

The new Bomber stadium may not be suited for the summer version of round ball football, but then again maybe it will be (very sheltered design). But a freshened up 4,500 seat Pan-Am Stadium next door? That has to have USL 1st Division written all over it.

Location is a bit of an issue for some. It always was going to be but all in all probably as good a spot as could be had and still offer as complete a package. And I lose my rec league playing fields but others are coming a few doors down so big deal.

Bombers going private, but in name only. It's more of a private individual's "stewardship" of a public treasure. War and Peace had less pages written than the legal document which transfers the club to Asper. Ug.

http://www.blueandgold.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=30

Looks good. Wicked fast time frame too. Earth movers rolling in before winter freeze up.

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quote:Originally posted by Cheeta

Location is a bit of an issue for some. It always was going to be but all in all probably as good a spot as could be had and still offer as complete a package.

Bombers going private, but in name only. It's more of a private individual's "stewardship" of a public treasure. Looks good. Wicked fast time frame too. Earth movers rolling in before winter freeze up.

Location is great ... for me!;) I can even walk/bike to there,

just like the early days of the Winnipeg Fury.

Public/private ownership is not an issue as taxpayers are not likely

to fund the improvement plans of a professional franchise, so it

has to private. Hopefully we will now get the facilities we

deserve. And since we're talking about the University of Manitoba,

we'd get well-funded infrastructure. It's a win-win.

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Decision soon on 'Riders future home?

Jennifer Graham, THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA - It has been site of Grey Cup championships and blockbuster rock concerts but Mosaic Stadium - home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders - is aging and political leaders say "something needs to be done."

"We know at some point we're going to have to, as a province, make a decision with respect to Mosaic," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said Thursday.

"We've been saying for some time that something needs to be done with the stadium and if there are some changes to the existing one or a newer facility, obviously the province is probably going to be having a part in that."

Wall wouldn't speculate about how much money the province might contribute, but said any funding won't come from the government's general revenue fund because there are other infrastructure priorities in Saskatchewan.

Funding for a new stadium could come from the Saskatchewan Gaming Corp., he suggested.

There have long been talks about what to do with Mosaic Stadium, one of the oldest in the Canadian Football League.

The stadium opened in 1927, although most of the current structure dates to the mid-1970s when a major renovation took place. More renovations were made in preparation for the 1995 Grey Cup, according to the team's website.

The province has hired a group to review the options for the future, including upgrading Mosaic, building a new outdoor facility or building a dome. Wall said the answer could come within months.

"We do want to see some initial work done here very soon, this spring. I think we're looking at some time this year to try to make a decision," said Wall.

The premier noted that other provinces are taking steps to improve their facilities. Last week, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced a deal to build a 30,000-seat stadium by the summer of 2011.

Wall hinted Thursday that a choice needs to be made quickly because the team's 100th anniversary is coming is up in 2010 and there could be a Grey Cup bid.

Saskatchewan could make a pitch to host the 2012 championship. However, that is the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup and a Roughrider spokesman acknowledged there expectations are that the game will be held in Toronto. The team could apply to host the 2013 Grey Cup.

The province will also review options for a new stadium proposed by the Roughrider team and the City of Regina, which owns Mosaic Stadium. But Wall said he's leaning toward an answer that's "more than about football."

"If they're talking about a $100 million upgrade to Mosaic, we know that's just principally about football," said Wall.

"The same would be true for a brand new outdoor stadium, really that's obviously a football facility and it limits the other multiple use aspects of it. I think it's reasonable that all the parties are looking at some innovative ways to consider this entertainment complex, an indoor one that would have other applications other than just football," he said.

"Whatever we do, moving forward as a province, I think the Riders tenancy in it isn't the most important thing. It's gotta be other uses."

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City of Moncton awarded a 10.5 million tender to complete the 2nd grand stand and field house of the new 20,000 seat stadium set to open in 2010

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The new stadium is getting a lot of backing from the local media and government with little opinion, right now, against it. I think if the project starts to look likely than there will be more debate but right now the pro side has all the ground. An example at city council last week, during comments on the new budget Councilor Terry Hinks raved about the future new stadium as he went on about Regina's future. This comment was right out of the blue, but characteristic of lets say general opinion.

Most want a multipurpose domed facility in the same vein as the Fargo Dome. Often the area along Dewdney Ave where the current transport container yards are (they are being moved to an intermodal facility on the west outskirts, while the tracks are set to remain) is the most desired location for a new stadium/entertainment center (new term being used for the project).

I'm conflicted about this potentially $300m project for boat shows, occational rock concerts (Mayor Fiacco, after the Rolling Stones played Taylor Field promised,during an election campaign more concerts and almost 3 years on two more are coming AC/DC & Aerosmith...during another election year. Hmmm) 10 or 11 CFL football games and various local sporting events needing max seating in the hundreds. I prefer to revitalize Taylor Field, improve links between downtown and Dewdney to the stadium and build your confrence centre, hotel/shopping spin off downtown. Do two for the 300m (the stadium could be more than 300m if it is going to wear all the hats people desire it to.) Mostly I do not trust people to get a downtown stadium right, because it is difficult to fit it in there but it is the most useful place for it. A green field site is easier but would just increase the seperation of Reginas entertainment infrastructure.

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^^Any money put towards Mosaic would be throwing good money after bad and when all is said and done it will still be a football stadium. Those old CFL stadiums need to maximize revenues; club seats, suites, concessions, and the money it would cost to do it properly might as well be spent on a new structure.

The comments I have been seeing are mostly in favour with a few of the usual house the homeless, pave the roads comments thrown in.

The time is right for these projects, the major problem is the will to do it, and Regina seems to have the will.

Personally, I don't think the Fargodome (19,000 seats) should be the model (architecturally speaking) for what the planners envision for this building. A better model might be the Gelredome (26,600 seats), home stadium of Vitesse in Arnhem, Holland.

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Built in 1998 at a cost of 160 million guilders (US$64 millions) the revolutionary Gelredome boasts not only a sliding roof which can be closed when the weather turns bad, but also a retractable pitch which officials at Arnhem maintain is the first of its type in the world.

The Gelredome is unique in its original and modern design. After a game has been completed the 110 meters long, 70 meters wide and 1.4 meters deep retractable playing pitch is towed in its entirety from the stadium, out under the south stand, to a position where it is exposed to the elements, while the sliding roof of the stadium is closed so ensuring total security from inclement weather for those who may be inside. As Public Relations Officer Frank Huizinga pointed out, “The stadium is multi-functional and we can use it for pop concerts, exhibtions and other events.

Source

While the retractable field is likely overkill, and the outside of the structure isn't my cup of tea, I'd like to know how they built this building so darn cheap (even in 1998 dollars)

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quote:Originally posted by Joe MacCarthy

^^Any money put towards Mosaic would be throwing good money after bad and when all is said and done it will still be a football stadium. Those old CFL stadiums need to maximize revenues; club seats, suites, concessions, and the money it would cost to do it properly might as well be spent on a new structure.

The comments I have been seeing are mostly in favour with a few of the usual house the homeless, pave the roads comments thrown in.

The time is right for these projects, the major problem is the will to do it, and Regina seems to have the will.

Regina needs a lot of work and that kind of money for a football stadium, and lets be clear they'll be building a football stadium. Half the people who want a new stadium rave about all the uses they will get out of it so when you shift the arguement to building this event centre to be oriented to various events the nerves come out and the cry is "it's still got be able to be a football stadium." The primary use and users of Taylor Field are football teams, the reason for a new stadium is to provide THEM (really just the riders) with a quality venue. I also feel a lot of the grips about Taylor Field are cosmetic, the seats seem to be one you hear a lot or to do with the weather. You call our boom time dreamland political will, I think of it more as delusional keeping up with the jones'.

You say Taylor Field is a waste of money. I disagree. In general I prefer refurbishing to building new. Taylor Field may not be everyone's idea of heritage but I think of stadia like St. James Park or Old Trafford that have evolved into great venues, those should be the models to follow. We have a 30 000 seat football field lets keep it. It's here because of historical circumstance, lets maintain it. The $100m sum to 'fix' it has been thrown around a lot but not really confirmed or costed in the paper anyway. I don't know what you get for that. Certainly the civic boosters have been working to make that the base sum in the minds of the population.

I can understand your arguement only within the context of assured tennents for a new stadium/event centre. Right now that seems likely but I've seen the Riders tank in attendance, even the potential of NFL expansion into Toronto, to my mind seriously asks how strong the CFL is as a league. I suppose as a sporting venue I only foresee football, certainly no soccer, baseball, or rugby. People talk up soccer here but seem to not question why Taylor Field doesn't host soccer even if the turf is the same as what would be used in the new stadium, complete with football lines. Maybe an exhibition hockey game? So pay $300m for a hotel, convention, sports stadium complex (that's assuming the builders are cleaver enough to maximize uses) that will mostly hold home and garden shows, if they come, or an occational concert. To me this project unless done flawlessly in site placement, design, maximizing uses, integrating with the current built form and providing the necessary infrastructure will become a Big O style White Elephant.

quote:

Personally, I don't think the Fargodome (19,000 seats) should be the model (architecturally speaking) for what the planners envision for this building. A better model might be the Gelredome (26,600 seats), home stadium of Vitesse in Arnhem, Holland.

Built in 1998 at a cost of 160 million guilders (US$64 millions) the revolutionary Gelredome boasts not only a sliding roof which can be closed when the weather turns bad, but also a retractable pitch which officials at Arnhem maintain is the first of its type in the world.

The Gelredome is unique in its original and modern design. After a game has been completed the 110 meters long, 70 meters wide and 1.4 meters deep retractable playing pitch is towed in its entirety from the stadium, out under the south stand, to a position where it is exposed to the elements, while the sliding roof of the stadium is closed so ensuring total security from inclement weather for those who may be inside. As Public Relations Officer Frank Huizinga pointed out, “The stadium is multi-functional and we can use it for pop concerts, exhibtions and other events.

Source

While the retractable field is likely overkill, and the outside of the structure isn't my cup of tea, I'd like to know how they built this building so darn cheap (even in 1998 dollars)

I agree the fargo dome isn't the best example, it's half the size for one thing, but it is the example constantly used. The fargo dome also has much more uses because it seems like the main facility in that city. Events like the Western Canadian Agribition for example to my mind are going to stay at the exhibition park.

I think the Gelerdome is a good example, just add 10 000 seats and the posibility for another 10 000 temporary (in case a Grey Cup breaks out) to the design take out the moving field, forget the grass on that field too, and add hospitality facilities, resuraunts hotels and if downtown massive parking infrastructure or at a green field massive parking lagoons. I think the Ricoh arena (Coventry) with a roof is a good fit, the price range is similar to what's being discussed too.

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North Dakota's Fargodome a possible model for new stadium in Regina

Angela Hall Leader-Post July 16, 2009

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The Fargodome in North Dakota can seat about 19,000 people for football games.

Photograph by: NDTOURISM.com

REGINA — The Fargodome in North Dakota is one of the facilities that a Saskatchewan company studied as it conducted a review for the government on the options for the future of Mosaic Stadium.

While the report is still under wraps from the public, the president of the company that undertook the review said the domed facility in Fargo was seen as a relevant stadium to explore.

"It's not a big urban centre, and its surrounding area is not unlike Regina with rural area (and) smaller centres," said Bill Shupe of W. Shupe and Company, noting the population of the Fargo-Moorhead area is around 175,000.

"Its anchor tenant is a major football team ... so that would obviously have a similarity to Regina," said Shupe, who is also the executive-in-residence at the University of Regina.

He said one of his associates went to visit the Fargodome to get a sense of what kind of presence it has in that community.

The findings of that $70,000 government-commissioned concept review, which also looked at the possibility of upgrading the existing Mosaic Stadium or building another outdoor stadium, haven't been released yet.

But the provincial government would like to provide an update before the end of the month, a spokesperson said this week.

The province has been talking to the federal government, the Roughriders and the City of Regina.

The next step in the process if it proceeds would be a feasibility study to provide an in-depth look at the preferred option, including specifics such as costs and locations.

Fargodome general manager Rob Sobolik said it's not uncommon for the facility to get inquiries about the domed facility from other jurisdictions.

In addition to division one college football, the facility hosts high school football, basketball and wrestling events, trade shows, traveling Broadway shows, family entertainment shows, rodeo and concerts, Sobolik said.

Capacity for the football games is about 19,000, and can vary for other events depending on seat configuration.

"We average about 105 public event days a year. When you add in move-in, move-out days, it's closer to about 200," he said Wednesday from North Dakota.

Sobolik said when activities such as university practices are added in, the facility is used about 250 days. More is always better, but the facility sees operating revenues exceed operating expenses, he said.

"Event facilities are great. They can be expensive to maintain and you have to take the economic benefit of them into consideration when weighing the pros and cons of it," Sobolik said.

Although Shupe acknowledged Fargodome was one of the stadiums they visited when he was asked about the facility directly, he declined to name others that they looked at in their study.

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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.

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^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...

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Stadium Concept Review: A Summary Report

Well it looks like a soccer stadium could be the model for the proposed new Regina stadium. It's not the Fargodome or the Gelredome it's the ... wait for it...Stockholmsarenan (see Slide 43)

Stockholmsarenan is a multi-purpose stadium in Stockholm, Sweden, that is currently in the planning stages. Once completed, it will be used mostly for football matches and will host the home matches of Hammarby IF. The stadium will have a capacity of 30,000 people. It replaces their current stadium Söderstadion. (courtesy Wikipedia)

The released report suggests a domed facility, likely 38,000 seats and likely retractable. In the report, it suggests a retractable roof (similar to University of Phoenix Stadium) could be cheaper than a fixed roof.

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quote:Originally posted by Joe MacCarthy

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If something like that gets built...wow. Really, that would be amazing to see in Canada.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

cheers,

matthew

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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.”

Affordable 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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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