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Everything you’ve been asking about the new entertainment district


After years of imagining what a downtown arena and entertainment district could look like, a sprawling city report is beginning to reveal many desired aspects of Saskatoon's redesigned downtown core once it's completed.

A 108-page document prepared by technical advisors Stantec, HOK and LMN will go to the city's governance and priorities committee next week. The report contains specifics about a redesigned and expanded convention centre, a new arena, and the surrounding areas.

"Today's a huge day for Saskatoon and Saskatchewan, as we actually get to see what our city could look like in the future," Ward 4 Coun. Troy Davies said at the city's district unveiling Thursday.

The arena itself is designed with 15,900 seats, which could expand to 18,000. The footprint will be 624,000 square feet, which is slightly smaller than T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which has an overall size of 650,000 sq. ft.

There will be a variety of suites, boxes, and premium seating throughout the arena.

Much has been made about Saskatoon missing out on some of the biggest musical acts or travelling entertainment in recent years because of SaskTel Centre's 52-foot ceiling, which is considered small by modern standards.

The new arena, aptly displayed as "Saskatchewan Place" on Thursday, would have seating all the way up to 98 feet above the floor.

Davies said without having a "shelf ready" facility planned for the future, Saskatoon's ability to host large gatherings will only fall further behind.

"We've lost some concerts that have decided to go to Edmonton and not stay in Saskatoon," Davies said. "We've been made aware of from the start that we have a very short window moving forward."

The arena at the centre of the new district is just the beginning of the changes that could happen.

Redesigns planned for 22nd Street in front of the current TCU Place and 23rd Street would allocate more space for pedestrians, cyclists and landscaping. Twenty-Second Street would also have the ability to quickly close to motor traffic on event days to allow it to be part of the public spaces also planned.

"The revamped streets introduce elements such as street trees, active seating, and storefronts, transforming the urban landscape into a dynamic and welcoming environment," an excerpt of the document said.

The core, from 25th Street to the convention centre on 22nd Street, would be redesigned to include a concert terrace, a pavilion, a courtyard, a community park, and a greenway, among many other designs.

Much of the plan is contingent on Saskatoon's upcoming Bust Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which will reduce the reliability on vehicles and quickly transport large crowds on the district's busiest days.

A station on 22nd Street on the event plaza will serve the eventual red and green lines and a station on 1st Avenue at 23rd Street will serve all three lines planned in the area.

"The BRT is expected to carry 85 per cent of all transit riders associated with District Core events, and these two stations are expected to serve 90 per cent of that load," the document read.

The road surface of 22nd Street would be reduced by 9.3 metres to accommodate the plaza, wider sidewalks, accessible drop-off locations and extensive landscaping. Driving lanes would also be reduced on 23rd Street.

As for parking, the conceptual design document incorporates much of the available parking in a 15-minute walking distance of the arena.

The city expects there to be roughly 5,200 public or private parking stalls within a five to seven-minute walk of the arena when it opens. Combining the current parking study with future projections, the technical advisors project over 6,000 more cars will park downtown by a 7 p.m. show.

A 2016 city study of parking spaces in Saskatoon's downtown found roughly 11,000 of 15,000 parking stalls remained empty during evening hours.

"What we need to do right now is be shelf-ready," Ward 6 Coun. Cynthia Block said Thursday.

"We need to have our designs ready, we need to know what we want to do in this modern district, we need to have our modern transportation system totally figured out so that when those opportunities arrive we are ready to take advantage."

So far, the city has spent $46.55 million on properties in and around the proposed district, with an agreement in place to buy the YMCA for $8.5 million to expand TCU Place as the new convention Centre at the heart of the project. Top Stories

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