In a few months, Brent Sjoberg will likely be front and centre at a news conference with a scale model, probably draped in a cloth, of the final design for Regina's new $278-million stadium.
The story, on that day, will be what is underneath the cloth when citizens will learn — for sure — what the replacement for the creaky, 50-year-old-plus, Mosaic Stadium will look like.
'We've got three world-class bidders in this project.' —Deputy city manager Brent Sjoberg
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Sjoberg said Wednesday when a scrum of reporters asked him about a plan to have administrators select the contractor who will build the stadium. "There's 200,000 people that are going to have an opinion in terms of that. I have no illusions that everyone is going to be fully agreeing with everything."
Sjoberg is the city's lead executive on a team that is shepherding not only a new stadium but also a complex redevelopment plan for the current facility as well as a portion of the rail yards north of Regina's downtown.
He says the contractors on the short list for the stadium should be capable of delivering something that is aesthetically pleasing.
The question about the look of the stadium was posed, in a decidedly cheeky fashion, by a private radio news reporter who asked Sjoberg, "So, is our stadium going to be ugly?"
Sjoberg was unable to suppress a broad grin but still answered the smart-aleck.
"I can safely say that is not the plan," he said.
"We've got three world-class bidders in this project and they've all built multiple facilities around the world," Sjoberg noted.
The manager in charge of ensuring Regina's stadium looks good and is built on time and on budget has been in civic administration for just under six years.
Worked at same firm as ex-mayor Fiacco
Sjoberg joined the city administration in 2007 after a 16-year career with DirectWest, a phone book publishing company.
DirectWest is the same company where former Regina mayor Pat Fiacco worked, prior to running for office in 2000.
In addition to being deputy city manager and the city's chief financial officer, Sjoberg is involved in a family-owned meat shop business in Regina.
Managing the stadium file has certainly put Sjoberg through a grinder as the city at first aimed for a multi-purpose stadium with a roof situated north of the downtown core. That plan relied heavily on funding from the federal government and significant dollars from the private sector — neither of which materialized as originally envisioned.
Regina, with the support of the provincial government, retooled the project and unveiled, in July 2012, a plan for a city-owned stadium built with a combination of provincial grants, long-term loans, property tax increases and facility fees.
Stadium must be on time and on budget, Sjoberg says
Sjoberg said that while the stadium design is key, the city will also insist the facility be built on time and within the stated budget.
"They're going to be expected to deliver on it on time and on budget," he said.
When the current project was initially unveiled, in 2012, Sjoberg said the city will not commit to spending more than $278 million on the stadium adding that if it looked like costs would exceed that amount, the design of the facility would be scaled back to keep the building on budget.
Sjoberg said the selection team for the stadium will be working closely with the three shortlisted firms, even as they develop their final proposals.
"Through the process, they also have an opportunity to meet with the evaluation team [and] present their work as it goes along," he said. "So it's not something that is necessarily dropped on us at the very end."
Sjoberg said each bidder will have a chance to "refine things" before submitting their final proposal.
He said the evaluation team will reach what he called a "consensus" on the winning bid, using a point system to score each submission.
"We really only know who the winner is at the end," he said.