REAL reacts to Regina mayoral candidate’s commitment to downtown arena

Regina mayoral candidate Jerry Flegel announced on Friday that he would explore building “an entertainment and sports facility” in downtown Regina if elected the city’s next mayor this fall.

Flegel said there’s a need for an arena in downtown to renew the downtown landscape and bring a new energy to the area. He added that the facility would replace the Brandt Centre – Regina’s current arena built in October of 1977.

Tim Reid, president and CEO of Regina Exhibition Association Limited, admitted to reporters on Friday afternoon that Flegel’s proposal came as a surprise to him.

Reid said Flegel’s acknowledgement that the 43-year-old Brandt Centre needs a plan is something they support at REAL, however he suggested separating the arena away from the Evraz Place campus could be costly.

“We believe the economic impact from decoupling an indoor event centre from Evraz Place is literally hundreds of millions of dollars,” stated Reid, noting that a downtown arena would generate 300,000 visitors while Evraz Place draws 3.7 million visitors per year.

“We already have a hub for sports, entertainment and gathering places. I think we should be very cautious with the success of Evraz Place as we consider new developments in other parts of the city.”

Reid however recognizes a plan has to come for the aging Brandt Centre.

“It’s a building that has somewhere between five to ten years of useful life at a max and has some fairly significant deferred maintenance items that we have to resolve fairly quickly,” he explained.

“The fact that any mayoral candidate or council member is thinking about this piece of critical civic infrastructure doesn’t surprise us at all. We credit Jerry for thinking that way.”

Reid added that it was disappointing he and Flegel didn’t have a conversation about the downtown proposal in advance.

When speaking about the size of the building, Flegel said on Friday they would aim for a facility with a capacity of 12,000 to 13,000 if he was elected mayor. Of course, he mentioned that it’s not something that would be constructed tomorrow but rather a vision for the coming years.

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