Mayoral candidate wants to bring a new arena to downtown Regina

·3 min read

A Regina mayoral candidate says he wants to put a new arena in the downtown.

Jerry Flegel, who is currently serving as the Ward 10 councillor on Regina's city council, posted on Facebook Friday about his plans to rejuvenate downtown, should he win the mayoral race.

"The city needs something," Flegel said in a video where he toured around various vacant lots downtown.

"People have [asked] me, 'What are we doing with the downtown?' Entertainment and sports facility — call it a stadium, call it an arena, we need to regenerate what's going to happen downtown."

A new arena downtown would bring new business to restaurants and hotels nearby, he said.

The Brandt Centre, home of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, is located about 2.5 kilometres from the city's core at Evraz Place.

Tim Reid, president and CEO of Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL), was surprised by the timing of the announcement, but respects that Flegel has made the future of the Brandt Centre a priority.

Built in 1977, the facility is starting to creep up in years.

Peter Mills/CBC
Peter Mills/CBC

But when discussing moving an indoor event centre, such as the Brandt Centre, there are risks involved that must be carefully considered, Reid added, including competitiveness and economic impact.

Moving the Brandt Centre from its current location could make the city less competitive with other markets such as Vancouver or Toronto when bidding to host major concerts, exhibitions and sporting events like the Grey Cup, which Regina is hosting in a couple of years, he said.

"Right now, Regina is incredibly competitive because of the Evraz Place campus," said Reid, citing the millions of square feet that are available on site.

Reid pointed to the 100th Memorial Cup, hosted in Regina, as an example.

"In that scenario, we won that bid because teams could literally walk down the hall to get to their practice facilities. Fans could walk down the hall to get to their evening entertainment," he said.

"Because of that, we were so much more competitive than other cities."

Another risk, tied to competitiveness, is economic impact. Events hosted in Regina equate to hundreds of millions of dollars being put into local businesses, Reid said.

Plans that consider changing locations must bear in mind the potential economic impact, because much less money could come in as a result, he said.

Were an indoor event centre to go anywhere in Regina, though, downtown is possibly the best spot, Reid said. But that would have to be determined based on a thorough review.

"When you talk about a piece of civic infrastructure like a new arena or event centre … you want to make sure you get that right."

A few of the mayoral candidates have reached out to REAL about the future of the Brandt Centre, Reid said, as have several candidates running for city councillor positions.

Flegel also wants to bring what he called a "China gate" to 11th Avenue in the Chinatown area, he said in the video posted Friday.

This structure is a sort of security facility that would make living in the downtown area more attractive to seniors and others, where they can be close to amenities such as grocery stores and entertainment, Flegel said.

Voting day for the municipal election is Nov. 9.