Monday, March 1, 2010

We're Domed!

Source: CBC News: Domed Stadium Feasible for Regina: Report

First of all, let me apologize for the bad pun in the title of this post.

So, a report has come out which has stated that Regina is capable of supporting a Domed Stadium to replace Mosaic Stadium and Taylor Field. The estimated cost of the facility is $386.2 million dollars, a cost which goes up to $431.2 million if you factor in a retractable $45 million dollar roof, which Saskatchewan Roughriders representatives seem to favour.

The report suggests that the stadium stands to make a profit of $1.1 million to $1.4 million a year, and would be capable of hosting numerous events all year.

Does anyone else see the problem?

I'm not great at math, I'll be the first to admit that, but it seems to me that $1.1 - 1.4 million a year is a pretty small profit margin for the initial cost of either $386.2 or $431.2 million dollars. I mean, we already know, that construction efforts usually tend to suffer from various problems which cause the cost of the project to go up. For example, look to the Gallagher Centre in Yorkton. The costs of the project skyrocketed as demand for steel went up in China, causing the price of building materials to rise here and force the project to come in over budget. As such, it seems, that construction estimates are bound to be off, either under or over, due to factors that are beyond control of the construction company and the provincial government. So, let's accept that a sticker price of $431.2 million is going to likely rise, regardless of our best efforts.

On top of that, at what point does the project become profitable? If our initial cost is going to be $431.2 million dollars, or more, and the stadium is only likely to make $1.1 - 1.4 million dollars a year, how long is it going to take for the stadium to be paid off and able to actually reinvest their profits into the province? I'd assume that any private sector funding would come in the way of a loan, which of course has those interest payments on top of the principle loan, as everyone knows. So, how long is this stadium going to be paying?

Then factor in that with these payments, the $1.1 - 1.4 million dollar profit is not going to go towards solely paying back what is owed. After all, there's paying workers at the stadium, paying for maintenance as required, and other costs that will cut into the profit margins. As such, it is likely that this stadium is going to be paying off the initial costs for quite a few years to come. And then comes the real question, where exactly are the funds for this stadium going to come from?

Now, our Premier Brad Wall has come out and said that taxpayer dollars going to fund this project are out of the question...Yet to actually get the stadium build, there will need to be a contribution from the Federal, Provincial, and City governments combined with private sector interests. After all, if you've ever seen those large road signs outside of Saskatoon near the Sid Buckwold Bridge, you know that this road is being repaired through Federal-Provincial Co-operation, with each contributing money. I think it's rare when, and if, the Federal Government ever contributes money to a provincial project, without the provincial government adding something to the pot as well.

So, if we take that into consideration, the Saskatchewan Government is going to have to contribute something to the project...And the last time I checked, the Saskatchewan Government raises the bulk of it's revenue through tax dollars; granted, there are some investments and profits from the Crown Corporations, etc...But again, most of that money to make those investments and profits from the Crowns come from Saskatchewan taxpayers. So, one way or another, it seems highly unlikely that Saskatchewan taxpayers aren't going to contribute something to this program.

And even if Brad Wall and his government does offer direct funding to the project, the stadium is likely to see massive tax breaks within the province instead. In which case, the province loses tax revenue from the building. And since we have a Conservative Government, who sees raising taxes as a fate worse than death, that is revenue that we'll never get back. We may get tax revenue from the stadium when it opens and begins selling tickets and other things, but that would be a pittance compared to the initial taxable investment from the construction. Leaving Saskatchewan taxpayers effectively holding the bill anyways, even though we didn't pay money into it, we'll suffer from decreased income from the project.

Given that Saskatchewan is running in a deficit, why is our Premier and our Government so focused on seeing a domed stadium come to Regina? Well, as always with Conservative Governments, the stadium is a vanity project. Conservatives are fans of the 'big motions', the things they think the average voter cares about. And more importantly, if it's something they can tell the public they did, and it's simple and easy, it's all the better. After all, it is easier to explain to the public how you were able to rearrange government spending to minimize wasteful spending (which is VERY important, but not interesting to many people) or simply say 'Look, we build a domed stadium.' Guess which one tends to be one most people would hear about?

This is nothing more than a political ploy by the Saskatchewan Party Government and Brad Wall, and Saskatchewan residents deserve better.

Why should we have a government who is more concerned with getting a domed stadium than contributing a small amount of $8 million (a cost they spent for the Saskatchewan Pavilion in Vancouver, by the way) instead of keeping that funding in Station 20 West? Or a government who backs out of previous commitments to see a Children's Hospital build within the province? Much like their maligned quest for nuclear power, this is a project that is being done to create 'buzz' for the government and give them a legacy, and hopefully, a reason to be re-elected in the future.

We need a government who is concerned with helping those in need, not a government who is only concerned with helping themselves look better to the electorate.


leftdog said...

Well said! Great post. Hope you don't mind that I have added you to Saskatchewan Progressive Bloggers

Scott said...

To leftdog,

I don't mind at all! It's great company to be included in.