Saskatoon’s mayor says he wants to put conditions on the city’s contribution to a new rink and gymnasium complex at the University of Saskatchewan.
City council approved $3 million in funding Monday night for Merlis Belsher Place. The $40-million project is planned as a replacement for the aging Rutherford Rink at the U of S.
The new money comes on top of a $1-million grant the city already promised in exchange for a guarantee of 1,500 hours of ice time per year for Saskatoon Minor Hockey.
Mayor Charlie Clark said administration now has to put together a proposal for how to go about delivering the additional $3 million.
Clark told 650 CKOM he’ll only vote for a plan that spreads the contribution over a number of years, adding he also wants payments tied to evaluations of the facility’s ongoing benefit to the community.
The mayor noted with more money flowing from city coffers, he’ll want to see other organizations using the building’s rinks and gymnasiums.
“We want to make sure that we’re seeing other opportunities for community groups. The lacrosse folks, the ringette folks, the figure skating folks, the basketball and volleyball programs,” he said.
With the city funding in place, fundraisers behind the project said the new facility could be up-and-running in as little as a year and a half.
No immediate plans for downtown arena
Clark cautioned boosters of a downtown arena not to read too much into the city’s approval of funds for the U of S rink.
While he said an eventual replacement for the 30-year-old SaskTel Centre ought to go downtown, it will probably be many years before the city can seriously consider it.
“The issue is, we’re not talking about $4 million – we’re talking about potentially up to $400 million. We do not have an NHL team and some of those other revenue sources that can help to cover it,” he said.