Fundraising chair named for $11M Gordie Howe Bowl upgrade

The push to upgrade Saskatoon's football facility Gordie Howe Bowl takes another step forward today. Wright construction will manage the $11 million project. Businessperson and former Hilltops player Greg Yuel will lead the fundraising campaign.

Former Saskatoon Hilltop Greg Yuel to lead fundraising campaign

The push to upgrade Saskatoon's Gordie Howe Bowl took another step forward today.

Wright Construction will manage the $11 million project. Business person, and former Saskatoon Hilltop, Greg Yuel will lead the fundraising campaign.

Yuel said athletes will get a lot more use of the bowl when upgrades are finished. The upgrade includes artificial turf, new light posts, a score clock and a multi-purpose building.

"It's from early May all the way through to the end of November, as opposed to September, October," he said. "And that's it."

The artificial turf should prevent a lot of blown knees and other athletic injuries. Yuel said the existing grass turf is decades old and does not stand up well to constant use. He described the cold, hardened mud that's left after the grass gets worn off as like "playing on asphalt".

"Basically by the time the first week of high school football is played the grass is destroyed," he said. "There's approximately 135 hours of football that is able to be played on this field in its current state. Once we have artificial turf, we'll be able to expand that to 1,600 hours of football and soccer and camps and other usage."

It will extend the season from the current two months in the fall, to early May through to the end of November.

Still to be worked out is how the $11 million construction cost will be shared between the city, the province and through private sector fund-raising. Those negotiations rest with the Friends of the Bowl Foundation, but Yuel isn't shy about stating his own views.

"This is a civic facility, not unlike a swimming pool, not unlike baseball diamonds," he said. 

He expects to announce the fund-raising target early in the new year.