Well, there it is, the Regina Revitalization Initiative (RRI). The newest images for Regina’s proposed stadium were released to the media yesterday at a press conference held at City Hall. See the Globe and Mail, Prairie Dog and The Leader Post for more.
Details of the whole project, plus the above video, can be found at the City’s webpage, http://www.reginarevitalization.ca/. I would recommend everyone take a look at the Stadium concept booklet (here). It provides specifics on the stadium and an overview of the whole RRI project.
This is the most recent of three concepts for a Regina Sports Facility in as many years. It is becoming hard to take these seriously. It is anyone’s guess if the facility presented on Wednesday (yet again a ‘stadium’ even after Mayor Fiacco seemingly banned the word, this time last year, from council chambers in favour of ’Multi Purpose Entertainment Facility’) will be what sits on the Exhibition Grounds in 2017.
More after the jump.
I’ve been following this process, with less and less interest, over the last three years (see my posts: The Stadium (March 21, 2010), Regina Urban Revitalization Initiative (June 1, 2011) and Stadium (December 23, 2011)). From the beginning I was against the idea of a new stadium. I just do not think Regina has the money or the market to get the use out of a facility beyond what our current Taylor Field provides. Interestingly, this proposal is just a new, certainly fancier, version of what we already have. A replacement rather than an improvement.
In the last 3 years much has changed: gone is the dome, now the project is ‘dome ready’. The stadium site moved from the rail yards between Downtown and the Warehouse district to the exhibition grounds. The costs have come down, in step with the grandeur of the original designs. The city has not, as promised, found major private money for the stadium portion of the project but will kick in 70 million while taking out another 100 million in a loan from the provincial government.
The new design: seen above, the first image, represents what will be built for 2017. The second image, is the stadium after future renovations to include a dome. The shape of the roof is not the same, suggesting the first image might not quite be ‘dome ready,’ a stipulation for provincial government funding. A minor thing I am sure, likely just a difference between renderings.
As the design goes, I think its alright. The cracked egg-shell look is just begging for Mosaic to throw its name up on the side of the building. And, reassuringly, even if the stadium is white, it looks nothing like an elephant.
The stadium sits North-South rather than along the dominant wind direction North-West – South-East as Taylor Field does. The concept booklet cited above has some info on wind mitigation I do not really understand. Hopefully, cross breezes will not effect the playing conditions.
There is a lot of plaza space around the stadium. The design also incorporates the existing park to the West. I am happy to see the design retain this existing green space, hopefully the mature trees will stay as well.
The interior of the stadium seems to have good sight lines, a close-to-the-action seating arrangement, which will be lovely for football fans and a selection of individual seats depending on ticket price. Bench seating, as we all know, is one of the major issues with the entertainment value, currently lacking, at Taylor Field.
I have often worried about how connected this site would be to the city and particularly to the Downtown. Right now, walking from Downtown to Taylor Field is not a great experience. To help provide better connectivity, the new stadium design includes a green way, on the North side of the CP Main Line, to cross Elphinstone and continue all the way to Albert Street. This is an important corridor to promote pedestrian movement from entertainment areas to the stadium.
There is mention of a bus parking area along Elphinstone, near that entrance to the Exhibition Grounds. Building the appropriate infrastructure to allow for busing, and walking is really important to make the site effective. Providing parking is always necessary but perhaps making that option less desirable through: high parking fees, limit spots and harsh enforcement in the surrounding neighbourhoods on game days, could help change people’s modal choice.
Paul Dechene spotted the architect, Dipesh Patel, in a piece from the British newspaper The Guardian (Prairie Dog see comment #3). Turns out Mr. Patel is one of the designers of the City of Manchester Stadium, a 47000 seat arena built for the Commonwealth Games and now home to soccer team Manchester City. See, we can recycle in Regina.
A mini City of Manchester stadium on the Canadian Plains. That’s great for the folks who back this project. I, however, do not see any change in the issues around usefulness. The economics are better, setting out the funding and finding a stadium to match rather than the reverse makes for more realistic costs. It is good to see the expectations for the stadium have been lowered, through this process, to something manageable.
Well, somewhat manageable; Deloitte’s ‘Mosaic Stadium Replacement Delivery Model Selection: Value for Money Report’ suggests a Design/Build/Finance/Maintain (DBFM) model for the P3 the city intends to undertake is slightly superior to the Design/Build/Finance (DBF) model the city passed Monday. The benefits for the DFB option (from Deloitte’s report, pg 18) are that it is less complex to negotiate, faster to start building and more flexible over time, like if you want to add a roof. This leaves long-term maintenance to Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. (REAL), the folks who run the Exhibition Grounds.
Can we trust REAL to maintain the stadium when the city was not able to properly maintain the old one? Does this effect the 30 years of funding talked about earlier in RRI process? Why does the city hire consultants and then not take their recommendations?
For me it comes back to will. There are people with power in this city who want a stadium. As a part of making this real, there have been concessions and adjustments to the plan, many of which are beneficial to people who could care less about a stadium. That’s why, despite the above, I am trying to imagine the lovely spaces we could create on the former Taylor Field site and in the Rail Yards. They are going to get their stadium so we can get housing and a new connection between Downtown and the Warehouse District.
It is hard to concede the 1/3 stadium for the 2/3 infill development since there are no concrete plans for those spaces yet. I would like to think I can make that bargain though. It is all one big project after all. Right?
** Scroll over image for credit info, click image for link to original.