SPORTS

City of Regina backing open-air stadium

05/04/2012 02:36 EDT | Updated 07/04/2012 05:12 EDT

Although some in Saskatchewan dream of a domed stadium for the Roughriders football team to play in, the City of Regina says an open-air facility is the right way to go.

"As much as we would like to have a big, you know, state-of-the-art retractable roof facility ... can we afford it?" asked Brent Sjoberg, the city's deputy city manager. "As we looked at some of the numbers, we don't think we can."

The preference for an open-air replacement for Mosaic Stadium was one of the main themes emerging from the city's update of its revitalization project on Friday.

While several options have been explored, the current thinking at City Hall calls for a city-owned, open-air stadium with capacity for 33,000 people to be built by 2016 west of the downtown and operated by Evraz Place.

Although open-air, the plan calls for the facility to have the spectator areas covered.

With a new site for a stadium, the nearby Mosaic stadium grounds would be redeveloped into 700 new housing units, plus commercial space, green space and public areas.

The city says entire project will likely cost around $1 billion, with the private sector paying for $550 million to $660 million of that.

The city's share, including the value of contributed land, would be $88.3 million.

The city would be seeking $30 million from Ottawa, but the bulk of the government money would come from the province: $230 million, with $200 million of that for the stadium.

But by putting its support behind an open-air facility, the city could be at odds with the province.

Ken Cheveldayoff, the minister responsible for the stadium portfolio, says having a closed or even a retractable roof may offer a better chance of attracting private investors.

"If it's an open-air stadium, there's not much beyond the naming rights for the facility and maybe a few other things, but it reduces the private sector component for sponsorship or equity or anything like that," he said.

However, under a now-rejected provincial proposal, a stadium with a retractable roof could cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than an open-air version.

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