Monday, July 27, 2009

Johnstone, Conway oppose domed stadium

Regina Leader-Post business editor Bruce Johnstone and longtime school trustee turned councillor candidate John Conway have both spoken out against the proposed Roughrider domed stadium. The Leader-Post reports,

Conway, a University of Regina professor with a PhD in political sociology, isn’t a fan of the domed stadium idea.

“Personally, I think it’s madness,” he said. While unlikely, the evidence could convince him otherwise; but for now, he thinks that such a luxury shouldn’t be contemplated considering great infrastructure and social deficits, he noted.
Johnstone dedicated an entire column to the stadium question. Here's an excerpt.
"Building an all-weather, multi-use stadium presents a 'generational opportunity' for Regina and Saskatchewan residents,'' the consultants conclude.

It could also be an anchor around the necks of Regina and Saskatchewan taxpayers for generations to come.

First of all, as the report points out, the $350-million price-tag doesn't include land, parking, practice field, overhead walkways and other services. Canadian Pacific will want a significant whack of cash for their property.

Nor does it include the cost of a retractable roof, which the consultants say could cost less than a fixed roof. Tell that to the taxpayers of Montreal and Toronto, who paid through the nose for retractable roofs at the Olympic Stadium (the Big Owe) and SkyDome (Rogers Centre).

Other much larger cities, like Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Montreal, are planning modifications or replacing their open-air stadiums. Are they all masochists who like freezing in the fall and boiling in the summer?

I'm not saying a domed stadium is a terrible idea. I'm saying there may be other, more cost-effective, options that haven't been addressed.

For example, what about renovating Mosaic Stadium and expanding and/or replacing Brandt Centre? You could do both for significantly less than $350 million-plus and achieve many of the benefits of a domed stadium, such as attracting major concerts, conventions and events.

That option might not represent a "generational opportunity,'' but it probably won't be a "white elephant'' either.

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