Journey to the District - The Story So Far
The journey to the creation of a Downtown Event & Entertainment District started with recognition of aging infrastructure and has evolved into a vision for an active, exciting and economically-vibrant Downtown.
Prior to 2022
April 2016 - The City’s Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) received a presentation from the CEO of SaskTel Centre on the state of the facility and the industry.
March 2018 - A TCU Place/SaskTel Centre Market Analysis conducted by HLT Advisory, Conventional Wisdom and Convergence Design was presented to GPC. The report concluded that both SaskTel Centre and TCU Place were nearing the end of their useful life and recommended considering Downtown for a replacement event centre/ arena.
November 2018 - City Council received a report from Administration on the Considerations for TCU Place and SaskTel Centre. The report concluded that after taking into consideration a number of factors, including proximity to the future Bus Rapid Transit system and the focus on Downtown development, that a Downtown location for new event centre/arena and convention facilities would be of great benefit to the City. As a result of this report City Council directed Administration to:
- Include a future event centre/arena and convention centre when planning the future of Saskatoon’s Downtown;
- Ensure the focus of the planning work include consideration of an entertainment district, not just an event centre/arena and/or convention facility;
- Report back on Terms of Reference for a wider vision for a strong future Downtown;
- Seek approaches that minimize the reliance on Property Taxes; and,
- Recognize that while the City of Saskatoon has a leadership role, collaboration with stakeholders and the community is key.
April 2019 - City Council received a report from Administration about the next steps for a future Downtown Event and Entertainment District. This work would include confirming viable sites for consideration and completing detailed analysis to determine the preferred sites.
September 2019 - City Council received an information report from Administration outlining a communications and engagement plan to guide the site selection process.
January 2020 - City Council received a project update report from Administration that included researching best practices and reviewing the experiences of other cities. Two external advisory firms (Oak View Group and Katz Group/Shugarman Architecture) were engaged to gain insight with recent experience in siting and developing similar facilities. These two firms visited Saskatoon in December 2019 and provided technical reports outlining their advice on sites.
Negotiations with owners of potential private sites were begun.
April 2021 - An information report was presented to GPC about potential funding opportunities. In addition to traditional financing approaches, the City will explore new revenue sources to pay for the majority of the project. These sources are used in other jurisdictions with similar facilities such as a ticket surcharge/amusement tax, accommodations tax, motor vehicle rental fee and tax increment financing.
June 2021 - GPC received an information report outlining the sequencing of upcoming reports and milestones for the Downtown Event & Entertainment District and Bus Rapid Transit projects.
August 2021 - A project governance model, including the implementation of a Downtown Event & Entertainment District Advisory Group, was presented to GPC.
December 2021 - GPC received a report outlining the Advisory Group Composition and Terms of Reference.
January 2022 - GPC approved Mayor Charlie Clark, Councillor Troy Davies and Councillor Cynthia Block to be appointed to the Downtown Event & Entertainment District Advisory Group to the end of 2023.
March 2022 - GPC approved an amendment to the Downtown Event & Entertainment District Advisory Group composition and Terms of Reference to include one voting member from the Province of Saskatchewan.
Advisory Group was established.
April 2022 - City Administration releases a Request for Proposal for Owner Representatives for Potential Arena Partnership to research and come back with a recommendation on whether or not to proceed to a formal Expression of Interest to gauge private interest in a partnership or long-term operations contract for the new event centre/arena and convention centre. The scope of this assignment is limited to providing expert advice and assistance in the preparation of a report to City Council. This report will include a recommendation on whether or not to proceed to a formal Expression of Interest to gauge private interest in a partnership and long-term operations contract for the new event centre/arena and convention centre. The Owner’s Representative will advise the City on the potential private interest in a partnership, range of possible financial benefit to the City and the project (capital and operation), and the benefits and drawbacks with direction negotiation with a specific vendor. Should City Council decide to proceed with an Expression of Interest for a private partner, the City would issue a separate Request for Proposals for an Owner's Representative to support this subsequent phase of work.
May 2022 - City Council approves the Event Centre/Arena Site Evaluation Criteria.
June 2022 - City Council received a report from the Administration noting that negotiations to secure privately owned site options have progressed well over the last year, with conditional agreements in place. On June 14, 2022 Administration was advised that a slight extension is required by a private owner to facilitate required approvals on their end.
August 2022 - Negotiations with the private owner are completed. City Council approves a report outlining the two proposed site options and the public engagement plan. Randomized surveys begin August 30th looking for feedback on opportunities and challenges of both sites.
September - October 2022 - Open public engagement on the opportunities and challenges of the two feasible sites.
November 2022 - Report to Council reporting on engagement and technical results and recommending the Midtown Plaza North Parking lot as the site of the future Downtown event centre/arena. City Council confirms the site as recommended at a Special Meeting of Council on November 16th as well as the required land purchase.
January 2023 - Report to the Governance and Priorities Committee and City Council on Potential Private Partner. City Council approved a competitive procurement process to obtain a Private Partner to manage event centre/arena.
February 2023 - Technical Advisor chosen. Draft Vision and Guiding Principles goes to Governance and Priorities Committee.
Information Report on the Downtown Event and Entertainment District Plan, updating on work on the Vision and Guiding Principles.
March 2023 - Downtown Event and Entertainment District Plan – Vision Statement and Guiding Principles report presented to GPC.
With an amendment, City Council approves the Vision and Guiding Principles for the District.
August 2023 - Downtown Event and Entertainment District – Update on Upcoming Reports and Decision Milestones (August 2023) report presented to the Governance and Priorities Committee.
September 2023 - Downtown Event and Entertainment District – Revenue Instruments report to the Governance and Priorities Committee providing the results of KPMG’s analysis of a short-list of potential revenue instruments that could support the project’s funding plan, and outlining the revenue instruments City Administration intends to use in development of the funding plan.