Thirty-year payoff plan for Mosaic Stadium in jeopardy as Regina faces massive deficit

Photo courtesy: Joel Gasson

The City of Regina released its mid-year financial report on Wednesday and the document painted a bleak picture of the municipality’s finances in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the report, Regina is expected to post a general operating deficit of $5.1 million this year due to a combination of factors, including fewer fees collected from transit and recreational centre users during the pandemic. According to CTV’s Jeremy Simes, the solution will be up to $7.2 million re-directed from capital programs.

One of the city’s chief concerns remains the financial sustainability of the new Mosaic Stadium. Without a CFL season in 2020 and the fees collected from Roughriders ticket sales, the stadium is expected to face financial impacts of $4-5 million and finish the year in the red.

“While it is not possible to reliably estimate the length and severity of the pandemic and the impact on the future financial result of the stadium, it is reasonable to assume that, at a minimum, there will be a negative affect to the operating results of Mosaic Stadium in 2020 and possibly beyond,” the report stated.

That means the plan to get the Regina Revitalization Initiative Stadium Reserve to a net zero positive within thirty years may no longer be feasible. The City of Regina will have to re-evaluate how they are paying off their shiny new venue.

Also suffering from the lack of Roughriders games are the Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL), who run nearby Evraz Place. REAL’s financials have reached a “critical point” and city council has agreed to a $13 million loan guarantee for the organization, with advance for the first quarter of 2021.

Mosaic Stadium was completed in 2017 to the tune of $278 million dollars, providing the CFL’s most fervent fan base with a crown jewel to call their own. It was funded in part with provincial and municipal money but the team – which is community owned – also contributed more than $40 million with another $100 million coming from ticket surcharges. While new stadiums in Hamilton and Winnipeg were plagued by delays and legal issues, new Mosaic launched on time, on budget and without significant issues.

An unpredictable global pandemic has now put a twist in that perfect story. The plan to pay for the stadium must now be extended or re-evaluated, so Riders fans should expect those ticket surcharges to continue for many years to come.