Skip to content

Arena, aquatic centre, baseball park potential projects for Regina

Regina to strike a committee to move “catalyst” projects forward in a coordinated way.

REGINA — The future of recreation and sports facilities in Regina was a key focus at Regina’s executive committee meeting at City Hall Wednesday.

Executive committee heard from three groups during that meeting. One was a pitch a new 10,000 arena to be the new home of the Regina Pats, the second called for an aquatic centre and the third was for a new baseball stadium that would host the Regina Red Sox. 

What ultimately was decided at the meeting was for a catalyst committee to be struck, which Mayor Sandra Masters said would “pull some of these projects together in collaboration with city administration.” 

The idea is to prevent one project from working against the other, and to move them forward and ensure there is collaboration when it comes to site designations, concept planning, financial modelling and how to prioritize them.

The need for new recreation or sports facilities is not a new one. There had been talk over the last few years about replacing existing facilities such as the Brandt Centre and Currie Field with new venues, as the existing structures are becoming old and out of date. Talk of a new aquatic centre had also been ongoing and a feasibility study was commissioned.

Mayor Masters noted various facilities, which also included the central library and police station, had stemmed from the 1970s and had come to the end of useful life.

“We have a billion dollars worth of infrastructure deficit,” said Mayor Masters after the meeting. “This would form part of that infrastructure deficit. We note everything conceives in the ‘70s, from the library to the police station to Brandt Centre, Lawson (Aquatic Centre). Clearly we went ahead, previous council went ahead with the police station … the library has been working on their Central Library revitalization for almost a decade now, and the Brandt Centre had been one of those question marks for a number of years.

“Having it all come together at the same time seems appropriate. Trying to plan for it also seems appropriate.”

The indication from the mayor is the city wants to be ready for funding from various levels of government if and when it becomes available. That means having a plan in place for concept, site, operationalization and use, she said.

These projects are described by the city as “catalyst” projects — ones that could spur economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city. 

REAL pitches downtown arena

The first presentation Wednesday morning was the arena planning strategy committee’s development update from Tim Reid, CEO of Regina Exhibition Association Ltd., who put forward a vision for a new 10,000-seat arena. 

The idea is this project could be a generational transformative project for the dirt. The proposed arena would be considerably bigger than the current Brandt Centre. The intention is for the venue to be a multipurpose mixed-use venue that could host hockey games, potentially major concerts and potentially the National Lacrosse League or Canadian Elite Basketball League as well. The thinking is this arena would program for 100 to 125 programming days per year, generating $1.8 to $2 million in annual earnings. The expected construction cost is estimated at upwards of $100 to $120 million.

Five possible locations were considered by arena committee, and all five would work, said Reid, but the recommendation was for an as-yet-undisclosed downtown location. 

The site would be close to available parking downtown and the idea is it would act as a catalyst for private investment. A future central library branch is expected downtown as well, and having both the library and arena projects downtown could spur on visitors to the downtown.

Reid said a new library and a new event centre would mean “a million and a half people coming to downtown,” he said.

On the Brandt Centre, Reid said the building should not be demolished, but instead be repurposed to become either a recreational or an agricultural facility. 

“The value for money in that facility is exceptional,” said Reid. He urged members of council not to let it sit dark.

As for the location of the new facility, Reid stressed the importance of the various facilities connecting to one another, with “purposeful distances” between them to attract visitors walking between them. 

“We have some great aspects of our city that exist,” Reid told the meeting. “We should embrace them and we should connect them with purpose. If we could start to explore what this city could be and put these catalyst projects in the right place, we believe we can have some exceptional results.”

New aquatic centre proposed 

The second presentation was of the completed feasibility study report for a new indoor aquatic centre. 

Currently, aquatic groups use the Lawson Aquatic Centre but like the Brandt Centre that building is also aging, built in the mid-‘70s, and near the end of its useful life.

The recommendation that came to the committee Wednesday was for a new facility to be built. The total project cost is estimated at around $172.6 million, which is including construction costs, professional fees and contingencies.

The indication is these numbers are similar to what it would cost to renovate and expand the Lawson Aquatic Centre, due to the difficult nature of refurbishing and upgrading there. A new facility would also align with energy and sustainability targets. 

Baseball facility discussed

The third presentation was on a request for a needs assessment for a new high-performance baseball facility in Regina. 

The primary tenant would be the Regina Red Sox of the Western Canada Baseball League, who currently play at Currie Field in north Regina, but it would serve recreational leagues as well. Tim Reid also spoke on the baseball proposal and the recommendation from his presentation was to address the gaps in the operational performance and seating of Currie Field and gaps related to the availability of synthetic baseball field facilities in Regina.