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March 03, 2010
Roughriders stadium study endorses Roughriders stadium
Last July, the Saskatchewan director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation predicted that it was "a foregone conclusion" that the province's then-announced Saskatachewan Roughriders stadium study was "going to recommend a new domed stadium," given that it was being conducted by a stadium management company. That study was released on Monday, and surprise, surprise:
The study says the domed stadium would be the only 30,000-plus all-weather venue for all of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Montana and North Dakota and could draw 500,000 people each year. The facility could have an operating profit of $1.1 million annually if it was host to 31 events a year, including 11 CFL games, according to the study.
"The project is clearly economically feasible and will generate related and recurrent benefits throughout the province of Saskatchewan. The benefits are overwhelmingly positive," the study says.
I can't tell from the news coverage whether that's a $1.1 million annual profit after paying off construction bonds, or assuming somebody else foots the bill for building the thing. Not that it matters much, as the construction cost is a bit of a moving target anyway, according to the report: $386 million for a 33,000-seat fixed-roof stadium, another $45 million to make the roof retractable. And no one knows yet how it would actually be paid for, with Saskatchewan Enterprise Minister Ken Cheveldayoff saying:
"The feasibility report says it is feasible to go forward. Now we will look at the capital accumulation phase," said Enterprise Minister Ken Cheveldayoff, whose Saskatchewan Party government indicated a decision about whether or not to proceed will be made by late spring.
"We'll talk to the federal government, the provincial government, the city and the Roughriders to put a plan in place," Cheveldayoff said.
"I can say right now that each partner would have to come to the table and contribute for this report to go forward."
Whether this would be a good deal for Saskatchewan, needless to say, depends on who comes to the table with what. But no doubt the Roughriders are happy that the headlines were written before any of the costs were figured in.
Well, at least the Saskatchewan Roughriders are a community owned team -- and will remain community owned if this deal goes through. The real outrage is happening in Winnipeg. Not only are they considering building a publicly financed stadium (inclusive of a dubious land swap deal) -- but as part of the deal the community owned team will be GIVEN to billionaire media tycoon David Asper. For your American readers: imagine Rupert Murdock (Fox News) going to Green Bay and saying "If the State of Wisconsin and the federal government build me a stadium, I'd be willing to take this Packers team off your hands for nothing."
While Regina is one of the very few cities that actually needs a new stadium (I've been to the present one... it...just...sucks...), I do have concerns over the proposed design, cost and location.
The Riders have survived just fine with an open air stadium. Weather is an integral part of the game experience, so I believe most would say a fixed dome is out. Now, why do we need a retractable roof? Sure, a domed stadium can be used for more events and 12 months of the year. Contrast that with the fact that a domed stadium costs almost exactly 4 times as much as it's open air counterpart...
So we get to use the facility 12 months instead of 6-8 every year, and in exchange we pay $250-300M more? I don't think so... how about we build the outdoor football stadium, build a new 10k seat hockey arena too, and spend $125M less instead of building a dome? We can even give the debt service on the "spare" $100M to the Riders, who will no doubt complain an outdoor facility can't host the Grey Cup...
They need 31 events to make some sort of profit. They anticipate 11 CFL games courtesy of the Roughies.
Are there 20 events currently being held in Regina? What other 20 events do they anticipate being held in this new stadium?
I would imagine they'll need more than 31 events to make this stadium pay... usually these types of studies assume an optomistic posture regarding attendance and revenues for the predicted events, and an equally optimistic view of operating expenses and the like.
They are probably thinking about concerts, conventions, monster trucks, farm shows (yet another reason it shouldn't be "downtown") and the like... they can probably get the 25-30 other events they need. The bigger concern for me would be whether construction costs run away, if 25,000 people will show up for each event (which seems to be the number they are expecting), and if all attendees spend to the level the study predicts they will.
As ever in these cases, that is a lot of "ifs" to be counting on... or put another way, if my Aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle...