Regina city council has given the green light to spend $2.5 million to move forward on a proposed new sports stadium.

More than a dozen people spoke at Monday evening's council meeting, both for and against plans to spend millions of dollars to build an open-air facility to replace Mosaic Stadium, which is the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders CFL team.

But in the end, councillors approved a transfer of $2.5 million from a reserve fund in order to find a qualified builder for the stadium.

Prior to the meeting, some people who oppose the stadium plan gathered outside city hall, trying to collect names on a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.

Critics of the project argue that city councillors are rushing the project through without consulting with taxpayers.

At least one of the delegations notes that the overall stadium expense over 30 years, including interest and operating costs, tops $675 million.

Several delegations say the city should spend the money to alleviate a severe shortage of affordable housing. Regina has one of the lowest apartment vacancy rates in Canada.

Meanwhile, council is moving ahead with some of the groundwork, including the design of the structure. The final designs will have to come back to council for approval.