Regina Mayoral Candidate Jerry Flegel announced his plans to commission a sports and entertainment facility in downtown Regina if elected, but the Regina Exhibition Association Limited says such a move should be done with careful consideration.
In a post to the “Jerry Flegel for Regina Mayor” Facebook page Friday, Flegel said making downtown a destination would be a key part of his platform.
“We are announcing that developers are lined up and ready to build the next entertainment & sports facility on prime lands right in downtown Regina,” the post reads. “The venue will bring events to our city all year round, and encourage entrepreneurs to build their next venture in the heart of Regina.”
“This venue, and the development of our Dewdney Raillands will bring Regina forward as an all season destination and give our businesses reason to invest in a downtown like no other.”
President and CEO of REAL Tim Reid responded to the campaign announcement with a message of caution. He acknowledged roughly 70 per cent of approximately 6,000 residents consulted on the future of Evraz Place wanted a plan for the aging Brandt Centre, built in the late 1970s.
“Downtown is a viable and important option to consider, many other cities have had success with this model,” Reid said. “It’s also one that takes careful consideration.”
“The risk that we've identified in this process is that decoupling the major indoor event space from our current campus presents considerable economic impact risk to events such as Canadian Western Agribition, Queen City Exhibition, Canada's Farm Show, as well as major sport tourism hosting events such as the Brier, the Memorial Cup, or even this year's proposed Grey Cup.”
Reid estimated the economic impact from separating an indoor event centre from Evraz Place to be hundreds of millions of dollars. He also noted the interconnected space allows Regina to compete with larger markets for events, emphasizing the Brandt Centre’s still important role in the larger Evraz Place campus.
“A downtown arena would generate 300,000 visitors. Evraz Place today generates 3.7 million visitors,” Reid said. “I think we should be very cautious with the success of Evraz Place as we consider new developments in other parts of the city.”
Flegel, a four term city councillor representing Ward 10, is one of several candidates challenging incumbent Michael Fougere in the 2020 Regina mayoral race.
The city election is set for Nov. 9.