From community programs to elite soccer and concerts — Prairieland is planning to build an open-air stadium in Saskatoon, which would also be home to a Canadian Premier League franchise team.
The multi-use facility with 5,500 seats is estimated to cost around $28 million total to build, according to Steve Chisholm, board chair of Prairieland.
“We do anticipate that this is a generational facility,” he said on Tuesday.
“We’re not just building it for the group that’s going to be here in the next five years. But we certainly hope that it will expand and grow as well.”
The new stadium would have the potential to expand to 8,000 seats in the future, according to the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority’s Canadian Premier League soccer stadium economic impact study from 2021.
The proposed site of the stadium is Marquis Downs, the former space used for horse racing in the city.
Location key for project: rights owner
Prairieland is supporting the project with over $2 million in cash as well as “hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff support,” said Chisholm in a news release.
It is now looking for additional support from the community and all levels of government, he added.
Prairieland though has already an anchor tenant for the new stadium.
The Saskatchewan company that owns the rights to develop and launch a CPL expansion team in Saskatoon is on board as a private investor and partner.
Al Simpson of Living Sky Sports and Entertainment Inc. has pledged $2 million toward the construction of the stadium, in addition to covering the franchise and team startup costs, Chisholm said in a news release.
“We are an immigrant nation,” Simpson said on Tuesday. “The sport of soccer is universal. That’s not going to change. Soccer is the world’s game.”
Chisholm said they would like to break ground as soon as possible, hoping to see soccer games at the stadium by 2024.
Launching the province’s first CPL club in the city is contingent on Saskatoon building a stadium to CPL standards, according to the economic development authority’s impact study.
“If you are going to develop a sports franchise anywhere in the world now, location is very important,” said Simpson.
“There are jurisdictions in this country that would die to be able to go three minutes from the downtown core to a location like this.”
Estimated output, funding needs
The construction of the soccer stadium is estimated to result in a one-time output of $35.8 million, while operations and tourism for the first year is predicted to generate around $6.07 million, the document says.
Next week, Prairieland plans to make a presentation to the city about the project, said Chisholm.
While he wasn’t able to share how much financial support they are hoping to receive from Saskatoon, the economic development agency’s report from September 2021 anticipated that funding from the city could be around $7 million, with the same amounts coming from the province and federal infrastructure.
These numbers were based on “a mid-range construction estimate of $25 million.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Charlie Clark said he was just learning more about the project and didn’t want to make any promises about potential funding from the city.
“Obviously there is a lot of different capital projects… that we are trying to make sure that we can deliver on,” he said.
“We are not looking to spread ourselves so thin that we can’t deliver on any of them.”
It might not just be soccer fans and players who could use the future stadium.
The facility could also double as an outdoor concert venue and be used by other sports groups, such as cricket and rugby teams.
“It’s a much needed stadium in Saskatoon,” said Mustafa Rashid, president of the Saskatoon Cricket Association, and “definitely will be a game changer.”