The city of Regina (Canada) is having its own stadium debate.
Here’s some cold comfort.
Regina was established in 1882 when the transcontinental railroad was constructed. On 19 June 1903, with a population of more than 3,000, Regina was incorporated as a city. Now Regina has about 200,000 inhabitants. It is the capital city of the province of Saskatchewan and is located about 250 km south of the city of Saskatoon. Regina’s most popular daily newspaper is The Leader Post. The city is home to the University of Regina. Regina was the headquarters of the North West Mounted Police for 28 years.
### The Regina Leader-Post February 25, 2009
Exclusive Series: State of the Stadium
Regina needs partners for new stadium: Fiacco
By Ian Hamilton
REGINA — Paying for a new or renovated stadium in Regina may end up being a political football.
The City of Regina is contemplating upgrades to Mosaic Stadium — home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, among others — that could cost up to $120 million. But instead of spending huge money and ending up with a renovated stadium, the city also is contemplating a new facility with a price tag that could reach $350 million.
No matter which project is chosen, the city is looking for a teammate or two to help pay the bills.
“We own the building, it’s our facility, so we have to be a major player,” says Mayor Pat Fiacco. “But we can’t do it alone. I’m not going to do it on the backs of property taxpayers alone.
“There are programs out there, provincially and federally, that allow us to access those funds so that everyone participates. We’ll certainly be looking at what those opportunities look like.”
The idea of government involvement has generated some opposition.
David Seymour, the director of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s Saskatchewan office and a senior policy analyst at the think-tank, believes governments shouldn’t fund anything related to entertainment. That allows taxpayers “to make their own decisions and transfer their own revenue to funding something like a stadium.”
Seymour admits there are projects that call for government involvement, but this isn’t one of them.
“It may be true that the only way that Regina will end up with a stadium on that scale is through having a government injection or subsidy, but that very fact is telling you that people by their voluntary choices just don’t value it highly enough,” Seymour says.
“What they should do is look at what is the best stadium they can make a business case for and say, ‘Look, this is what the people apparently want. This is what they’re prepared to pay for,’ rather than ask others to pay on their behalf.”
The Saskatchewan director of the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation also has reservations about the idea.
Lee Harding would like to see the city hold a referendum featuring fully costed options and a set limit on taxpayer contributions. The option the public picks then would be constructed.
While some taxpayers will support a costly project like a domed stadium, Harding would like to see other financial backers get involved.
Fiacco is one of the driving forces behind a new stadium, primarily because of what it can offer Regina.
“We want a thriving community,” he says. “It’s about choice . . . It’s for the public good and we (on city council) have an obligation as an elected group of officials to do what’s right for the public good.”