Dashiellsaurus Rex ended up getting the better of Paul Dechene today and he was unable to attend the media briefing where concept drawings for the proposed new 33,000 seat stadium were unveiled so I filled in. First, let me introduce you to the four guys in the above photo. From left to right they are Neil Donnelly, Vice President of Events & Entertainment at Evraz Place; Jim Hopson, CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders; Dipesh Patel, a London-based architect who has worked on a number of stadium projects around the world; and Brent Sjoberg, Deputy City Manager & CFO.
The first order of business was to announce a new website where information on the Regina Revitalization Project can be found. If you visit it, you’ll find special sections on all three prongs of RRP: the construction of a new stadium at the south-east corner of Evraz Place; the subsequent demolition of Mosaic Stadium and the creation of a new residential and commercial neighbourhood there; and the redevelopment of the 17.5 acres between downtown Regina and the Warehouse District that are currently occupied by the CP container facility.
The website has a nifty video that explains things in a far more entertaining and enthusiastic manner than I could ever manage, but here’s a summary. Negotiations with CP to acquire the 17.5 acres are ongoing, Sjoberg said, and once that goes through the city will entertain offers on how that area should be redeveloped to facilitate commerce, nightlife and other goals of the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan. The Taylor Field redevelopment will get going in 2015 or so with visioning sessions then begin in earnest once that stadium is toast (some time in 2017-18 is what Sjoberg said).
During the briefing, Patel explained key design points of the new stadium. It’s been planned with Regina’s climate in mind ie. prevailing winds, peak months of sunshine, average monthly temperatures. The upper portion of the stadium has an over-hanging roof that is engineered to be somewhat adjustable to shield patrons from the blazing sun in summer while still letting in cool breezes, and doing the opposite in the spring and fall ie. exposing patrons to warming sunshine and shielding them from chilly breezes. It’s a technology that’s been employed in other locales, Patel said, and can be fine-tuned for Regina, making the stadium a three-season facility.
The lower part of the stadium will be dug into the ground, facilitating access for people with mobility issues. The dirt that’s removed from the Evraz property will be used to help fashion a pleasing pedestrian corridor from the downtown to the stadium site that would run parallel to the CP line on the north side of the tracks. Both within and outside the stadium there will be facilities that will enhance the fan experience at games and also open up possibilities for use by Evraz Place for events like the Farm Progress Show and Queen City Ex.
There will be theatre seats in the stadium, with most of them located along the two sidelines to provide good sightlines as opposed to sketchy end zone seats. The field will be built to CFL and FIFA standards so it could be used for international soccer matches. The stadium will also be expandable to accommodate events like Grey Cup where a minimum of 50,000 seats are required. Patel said a roof could be added later, but he stated that if the climate control system worked as planned Reginans likely wouldn’t want to see the stadium closed in so as to preserve the outdoor sports experience.
These are concept drawings, so the final stadium may not look like this. But they are intended to serve as guidelines for the type of facility that the city is looking for. It hasn’t been fully costed, but the design was created with the budgeted $278 million in mind. What the city will do now is seek approval for the design from Council then in January ask firms who are interested in bidding on the project to present proof of their qualifications to ensure that they have the expertise needed to do the job. Once that’s established, there will be a request for proposals from three firms. Patel and the other partners who did up the concept drawings won’t bid but will instead serve as advisors to the city.
According to Sjoberg, a winning bid will be selected by late fall of 2013 and he maintained that site preparation work would begin almost immediately with construction beginning in the spring of 2014 and the stadium completed by 2017. That’s a streamlined version of the process, as there will be regular consultations with council and stakeholders to ensure the facility is progressing properly and whatnot.