Build it and they will come – at least Saskatoon’s city council hopes so.
As council endeavours to bring a new downtown arena to fruition, it’s worth noting the changes that have already taken place in the core and how the new arena will only thrive within this district.
The Remai Modern, though not everyone’s cup of tea architecturally speaking, was the first kid on the block for River Landing. This 124,670-square-foot facility opened in 2017.
In addition to its thoughtful arts programming, the Remai has become a brag-worthy event centre for corporate and private functions.
The area is alive with activity year-round and remains accessible to everyone in the community.
Side note: let’s hope it doesn’t take another 30 years to begin the second phase of the river shore on the west side of Idylwyld Drive.
Downtown Saskatoon’s big-city vibes
It’s almost hard to imagine what the long-time barren “Parcel Y” looked like before the new towers rose at River Landing.
The big-city vibes of this multi-use site are truly astonishing.
You can’t beat the views out of these buildings, which now anchor downtown as if they’ve always existed.
Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The new central library project dates back to 2009 if you can believe it. It was 2017 when the city began meaningful operational planning on how this would look.
Through community consultation (2018) and building the business case (2019) the design process finally took shape in earnest in 2020.
Demolition on the site is happening right now and the building is slated to open in 2026.
The city is also working to sell the current Frances Morrison downtown library as the new site is full steam ahead.
Journey to the entertainment district
Bring on the potential Downtown Event and Entertainment District, I say. A modern events centre on either of the proposed sites is exactly what this city needs to keep growing.
There has always been a lot of discussion regarding downtown residential density, which understandably affects commercial real estate viability.
It’s the chicken or the egg, in that you can’t have one without the other. So who steps up first?
The idea of an entertainment hub provides for improved transit and strengthened commercial business all of which would benefit a migration of residents to the core.
The impact of local dollars that stay in Saskatoon every time a concert, sporting event or convention takes place is staggering.
COVID has killed any recent statistics about the impact of the aforementioned, but we know that visitors eat, stay in hotels and shop while in town.
You see this stated on occasion through bids such as the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
Though the bid ended up being unsuccessful, the tourney was expected to attract 20,000 out-of-towners with a financial impact around $50 million for the province.
There was such an economic spin that Regina and Saskatoon teamed up to share in it.
So it’s important to remember that there’s more than enough for everybody and hockey isn’t the only thing that this rink is bringing to downtown.