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The stadium: a misplaced priority

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This project is not what the city needs

Author: sydney mcwilliams- contributor

If someone were to ask me what makes me proud to be from Regina, Saskatchewan, the last thing I would mention would be the Roughriders. The team is great because they bring our province together in a way not many things could, but terrible in that the cult-like attitude towards them has driven the province into believing the new stadium is a great idea. The truth is, the project is a huge, misplaced priority.

I am sure that we have all driven down Saskatchewan Drive and have seen the construction of the new stadium underway, while Taylor Field (Mosaic Stadium) depressingly lingers in its shadow. It angers me every time I see it. Now, I am usually not against things that would bring great economic stimulus to the province, but when you look at the bigger picture, it’s nothing spectacular. Especially since the number of seats in the stadium is decreasing by 47. In accordance, several websites state that the seating could be increased to 40,000, but it makes no mention of the cost that it would entail. As well, the project’s price tag of $278 million is a substantial sum of money for our province, which, in the not too distant past, was a “have not” province.

The money is coming from a few different sources. The first is the Saskatchewan Roughriders team, who has supplied $25 million, generated from naming rights and sponsors. Since Rider Nation will be the predominate users, it seems only fitting that they contribute funds. The Government of Saskatchewan has provided an eighty-million dollar grant for the stadium and an additional $100-million dollar loan to be paid back over 31.5 years by an increase in facility fees at the stadium. When I hear numbers like eighty-million, it makes me think of my dwindling bank account as I get ready to pay my increased tuition fees, another senior citizen turning sixty-five who can’t afford to retire, and another single parent choosing between food or rent.

Seventy-three million dollars also comes from the City of Regina. Typically, income for municipal governments comes from the province or taxes on services, such as water and heat.  The city does have a plan to help cover this large sum of money and pay back their loan to the province by increasing the facility fees of the stadium from ten to twelve dollars. They also plan to increase property tax in Regina by .45 per cent every year over the next ten years. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money on paper, but as more young people and families can’t afford to buy a house in the current market, every cent puts those dreams further out of reach.

We have so many other pressing issues in our province, yet our government decided that providing a greater level of comfort to people who frequently attend sporting events, is top priority. As if they are the only thing that matters. Yes, the stadium might bring in a few extra big concerts, but when you really think about it, we’re not going to draw people from afar.  They will stay in major cities instead of wasting money to come here.

Re-developing Regina and making it a great place to be is something that I’d love to see, but starting small is the best way to go. For example, we can develop downtown and make it a great place to hang out so I’m not scared I’ll get jumped while walking to my car. We could develop parks and green spaces to encourage a playful childhood and more time outside. We could fund low-income housing, we could create more affordable senior care, or we could prevent our tuition costs from constantly rising.

Our city has potential, but this huge project is not what we need right now. It not only has a huge price tag, but it only benefits the middle and upper-class people that can afford to attend these events. I’m not trying to be a football hater, but the province and the city put the needs of the few over the needs of the many. So, the next time you drive by the new stadium, think about your tuition. Think about that house you might not buy until you’re thirty. Think about all the other things where the money could’ve gone, and you tell me if you still think the stadium is a good idea.

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