The never-ending saga over Regina's new stadium appears to have reached a conclusion.
Regina City Council has given the green light for the project to proceed, ending years of speculation over whether the project would happen, what it would look like and who would pay for it.
It wasn't an overwhelming popular decision with the public, as a lot of opposition remains. Petitions and protests might not have attracted as many dissenters as desired, but there is a vocal minority who believe the project should wait.
Nobody should argue the necessity of a new stadium. Mosaic Stadium is a wonderful place to watch a football game, but it's also archaic. There are upgrades that can be made, such as removing benches and installing seats, or replacing the video scoreboard.
But there won't be any renovations for the dilapidated concourse area. It's not just about having modern concessions and washrooms. The concourse areas can't be improved, upgraded or renovated. Eventually, they're going to fail. And that's why a new stadium has to be built.
Is it an urgent need? No. Mosaic Stadium will likely still be a serviceable venue for the next few years. But it's better to build it now, when a new stadium is a need, than in 10 to 15 years from now, when a new stadium would be an urgent need. In 10 to 15 years from now, a new stadium will also be much more expensive.
People need to remember the lessons learned from Moose Jaw's arena debacle. They knew a decade ago that a new arena had to be constructed. Not just to save the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, but because the "Crushed Can" needed replacement. But the new arena project was bogged down by squabbles, strife, studies and delays, and by the time it opened in 2011, it was twice as expensive as it would have been if it would have been constructed a few years earlier.
The new Regina stadium is not a perfect project. If it was, there would be another 10,000 seats and a retractable roof. The project is "roof-ready," but one has to wonder if a roof will ever be installed on the building if it isn't going to be constructed right away.
And there should be concerns with the estimated cost of the project; it does seem a little low. If it does come in over-budget, then the $12 per ticket stadium fee should be extended to pay for the extra costs.
Saskatchewan residents should be genuinely looking forward to 2017, when a new stadium in Regina is supposed to be finished. (The good folks in Winnipeg will tell us we should be happy if it's ready in 2018). Not only will it be a much better venue to watch a football game, but it will bring other special events that will serve as an attraction to people from across the province.