A new stadium, costing $278 million, will be built in Regina in time for the 2017 football season, government officials and the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced Saturday.
Funding for the facility will come from the province of Saskatchewan, the city of Regina and contributions from the Roughriders.
'This is huge. This is big.' —Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco
A loan of $100 million will also be part of the funding mix, with officials noting that money would be repaid through a $12 fee tacked onto tickets for football games and other events held at the new stadium.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by the three parties. Regina city council will also have to approve the deal. Meetings are set for later in July to consider the deal.
"The current stadium has served us well," Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said Saturday in announcing the deal. "But it's time the best fans in Canada and the best team in Canada have the best, new stadium in Canada."
Wall, along with Regina's mayor Pat Fiacco, took to the turf at Mosaic Stadium to share the news with football fans in the stands for an afternoon game between the Roughriders and B.C. Lions.
The new stadium will be built on the city's exhibition grounds, known as Evraz Place.
"This is huge. This is big," Fiacco said of the project. "And it's our turn. Let's just put it that way. It's our turn"
The facility will be open-air and seat 33,000, although capacity may be temporarily expanded for events like the Grey Cup. There is also a plan to ensure a roof could be added at a later date.
The funding for the facility, according to officials, will be:
- $80 million grant from the province of Saskatchewan.
- $73 million from the city of Regina.
- $25 million generated by such things as naming rights, to be coordinated by the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club.
- $100 million loan, from the province, to be paid down over 30 years through a $12 per ticket facility fee tacked onto each football game or any other event at the new stadium.
Fiacco said using a facility fee to help pay for the stadium reduces the burden on taxpayers.
"Our goal has been to minimize the burden on local taxpayers, and I believe today's funding agreement does that," he said during a briefing on the project with news media. "The majority portion of the funding will come in the form of a loan to be repaid over thirty years by the users of the facility through fees attached to the tickets to the game events. I think it's reasonable and I think it's fair."
Under the plan, the current stadium will be demolished once the new facility is open. The city said the land would be redeveloped into a mix of residential and other uses.
Reaction to the news, shortly after the football game, was generally positive, especially among fans of the team.
"I like the old stadium, but new is always good," one Roughriders supporter told CBC News, adding that an extra charge on tickets did not bother her. "I would pay anything to come to a rider game."
"I feel pretty pumped about it," another football enthusiast said.
"It needs to be upgraded," another person at the game said. "And someone's got to pay for it. It was going to happen eventually."