Downtown Saskatoon BID launches promotional campaign for entertainment district

The business improvement district (BID) in downtown Saskatoon has released the first video of a campaign to promote the development of the new Downtown Entertainment and Events District (DEED).

DEED will be anchored with a new downtown arena and a new or renovated convention center.

Saskatoon has been considering the prospect of a downtown arena and entertainment district since 2018, when the board decided that replacements for the SaskTel Center and TCU Place should be built downtown.

Although planning is still in its early stages, potential DEED is being promoted as a space to host the biggest events, conferences, concerts and sports.

“What is decided in relation to this project could very well define what the district and city will be over the coming decades,” Brent Penner, BID’s downtown executive director, said Tuesday at a media conference.

BID plans to release 18 videos detailing how DEED can work on its website and social media accounts.

Penner said Saskatoon’s lack of a downtown arena made it an “outlier and anomaly” in the country.

“This public gathering facility will stimulate the economy and bring new energy and life to Downtown Saskatoon. This facility will indeed keep us on the map and must be downtown,” said Penner.

Downtown Saskatoon’s Brent Penner said BEED would be a boon for businesses, restaurants and pubs in neighboring Broadway and Riversdale. (Courtesy Downtown Saskatoon)

A report on potential sites for the new arena is expected to be submitted to the city council later this year.

Penner said the new arena should be within walking distance of current facilities, transit and downtown hotels and “a block or two from major transportation corridors.”

“When we have festivals and large-scale events downtown, you see people walking across bridges and cycling, so that opens up some opportunities. But that’s not there now for people to get out onto Highway 16,” he said.

Penner said DEED would be a boon for businesses, restaurants and pubs in the area neighboring Broadway and Riversdale. He says the geography of Saskatoon between Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton works well for touring events and concerts to layover.

“We want to remain competitive in the Canadian landscape and of course for the North American touring circle.”

Penner says it’s time to reinvest in facilities like the 50-year-old TCU to keep it running for another 50 years. (Guy Queneville/CBC)

Penner said the people of Saskatoon had to pay for some of the construction.

“Our current aging arena was built for $26 million and has paid for itself many times over in terms of economic activity being reinvented for our community.”

Penner says it’s time to reinvest in facilities like the 50-year-old TCU to keep it running for another 50 years.

The Downtown Events and Entertainment District Advisory Group will work with the city of Saskatoon to explore funding opportunities for DEED. The group’s first meeting will be scheduled for next week.

“Hopefully in 50 to 60 years, people in the community will look back and say they were right to make a bold decision,” said Penner.

Jackson Wintringham

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