Regina Mayor Michael Fougere is trying so hard to explain why the city and province spending $153 million on a new stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders (plus another $120 million or so to operate it for the next 30 years) was a good idea, without actually lying about the fact. Just listen to the poor guy:
“When you model and talk about what is a return, what’s the investment and what is the economic potential of the stadium, we’re not going to make money on this one.”
That’s honest! So why are you still arguing for this deal, even though it was arranged before you took office in 2012?
Fougere says the return on taxpayer money spent for the new Mosaic Stadium is “not strictly an economic return in the sense that you have a return on investment in the classical business sense.”
Right, no actual taxpayer money getting repaid, got it. What’s the upside?
Fougere characterizes the stadium as a “public investment” to revitalize the downtown and says there will be spin-offs created as a result.
If everything works out, the new stadium, coupled with continued public investment downtown, will draw private interests to the area. Those private interests will build new facilities and, riding a wave of optimism, open new businesses.
“It really is the private sector making that decision, taking that risk, making that development and ultimately deciding what actually goes there. We’ll tell them the kinds of things we want to see in there, but we can’t dictate exactly what goes in there.”
Sooooo… “if everything works out,” putting $153 million into a new football stadium, plus an unspecified amount of money into other downtown development, could lead to private interests opening new businesses that they otherwise wouldn’t have! Not that this has ever worked well before, and besides maybe there could be cheaper and more effective ways to encourage businesses to open downtown, but … private sector! Synergy! Tax base!
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Roughriders are, much like the Green Bay Packers, owned by a public corporation of community shareholders, so it’s at least Regina football fans who are benefiting from the city’s largesse and not some faceless billionaire. No, that’s not much of a silver lining, but take what you can get, okay?