Posted: Jan 26, 2011, 1:28 AM
Regina 4 Life
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Regina, Sk, Canada
Province has 'extra measure of optimism' that feds will contribute funds for proposed stadium
By ANGELA HALL, Leader-Post January 25, 2011
REGINA — The provincial government has an "extra measure of optimism" that Ottawa might contribute cash to a proposed $431-million stadium in downtown Regina, amid increasing speculation that a federal Crown corporation could be used for such purposes, an official said Tuesday.
The federal government hasn't ruled out funding sports facilities through the P3 Canada Fund, an idea that has recently attracted national attention as Quebec City looks for help in building an NHL-style arena.
Saskatchewan's proposal was described in one media report this week as a "test case" that will determine how large sports infrastructure projects in Canada are handled.
Ron Styles, the provincial government's lead official on the project, said it's encouraging to publicly hear what the province has heard behind closed doors.
"I think this references exactly what (cabinet minister Ken Cheveldayoff) and myself have both been told through political channels as well as through P3 Canada — that they're going to have a look at the policy, they're going to make a decision on the policy, and is the potential there to use this as a bit of a test case as to whether you can do this kind of facility using P3 dollars or a P3 model," Styles said.
The Saskatchewan Party government applied last June for Ottawa to pay 20 to 25 per cent, or roughly $100 million, of the stadium's cost under the P3 Canada Fund, which is intended to provide money for public-private partnerships.
The criteria for the P3 Canada fund specifically "excludes facilities used primarily by professional athletes," but the province contends its proposal is for a multi-purpose entertainment facility that would serve as more than just the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
There are also questions about whether the P3 funding criteria might be adjusted to better fit applications for sports facilities.
Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski said the question revolves around how the P3 Canada board, which operates at arm's length from government, interprets the rules around sports infrastructure projects. He acknowledged that approving a multi-purpose entertainment projects could flood the fund with stadium and arena related applications from across the country.
"I'm sure that that's part of the consideration and, quite frankly, I think that's why it's taken so long to come to the decision on a Saskatchewan proposal, because of the other considerations," Lukiwski said.
The Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre MP said he encouraged the province to look to an existing pool of funds for potential federal support, knowing that new funding is not an option as the Conservative government seeks a return to balanced budgets.
But Lukiwski said the provincial government might also consider abandoning the "Cadillac version" of a retractable roof stadium and look at funding less expensive options without federal help.
"I believe there is sufficient money already committed between the private sector and the municipal and provincial governments that should they not want to wait until the P3 board has made its final decision, should they want to proceed expeditiously, they could probably go forward with some form of a project right now," Lukiwski said.
The provincial government believes $70 million in support could come from the private sector. Styles said that other options will be considered if the federal government doesn't come to the table.
"Until you start to hear back from the federal government, it's really tough to talk about the next options and what-ifs," he said.
Premier Brad Wall said Tuesday the government has heard nothing definitive from the federal government on the issue.
"They've been looking at, does this P3 program work for a stadium? What level of private money is needed? What about the amateur sport question? All these questions have been part of the deliberations and the discussion."
Wall said a change to the criteria for the P3 program wouldn't be unusual for that type of large-scale funding program.
And the flurry of interest from the Conservative government in the potential funding of a new arena in Quebec City to attract an NHL franchise "helps our case," said Wall.
-with files from James Wood