Back-to-back Regina Pats sellouts raise questions on Brandt Centre’s future

Since the World Junior Championship wrapped in early June, the Brandt Centre in Regina has seen increased traffic come through the doors.

The larger crowds have brought concerns about the facility’s capacity to provide a fun fan experience. Other concerns include long wait lines for bathrooms, drinks and food; a concourse with shoulder-to-shoulder traffic; and an old refrigeration unit that hasn’t been replaced since construction began in 1975.

Tim Reid has been president/CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) for five years. “I had the privilege of, in 2018, being here for the Memorial Cup run, where the city was just living the experience of WHL.”

“We had a great run for the Regina Pats, and it was a great turnout at a fantastic event, but since that time we haven’t seen a sellout,” Reid says.

The Pats last two games, however, have been standing-room only. Droves of excited hockey fans have been lining up to watch one of the game’s brightest stars – Connor Bedard.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: ‘Just do your best’: Defending superstar Connor Bedard a tough task for CHL’s top prospects

Read next: Marilyn Manson accused of raping underage girl in horrific new lawsuit

The 17-year-old phenom has 85 points in just 34 games and is projected to be the 1st overall pick in this year’s NHL draft.

“To see what Connor Bedard has done, we as the good people of Regina often have to be reminded by the rest of the nation what an opportunity we’ve had to have him in our building over the last couple of years,” Reid says.

Before Christmas, the Pats averaged 2,500 fans. Since then, that number has jumped to 6,400.

Before coming to Regina, Reid was in charge of running Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta. He compares Rexall to the Brandt Centre.

“There was not a better atmosphere in the NHL than an Edmonton Oilers playoff game and I would argue there’s not a better atmosphere in the CHL than a Regina Pats game at the Brandt Centre right now.”

Reid spoke to concerns over lineups, seating and water leaks. “We have all the things of a building that was built in 1975.”

Reid also sits as a co-chair on the Catalyst Committee, created by Regina City Council to explore five culturally-based facilities to maximize economic and community benefits.

Story continues below advertisement

One of the five projects was a Multi-Purpose Event Centre.

Community presentations of proposed plans for the Brandt Centre were held in October 2022. Members of the public heard from the committee on the plan for a new stadium and how best to repurpose the Brandt Centre.

After presentations, community response surveys were opened, and results were shared. Residents were asked to give their feedback on locations, funding and priority.

Read more: Regina catalyst committee hears from public about future projects for downtown

Read next: West Edmonton Mall closes Mindbender indoor roller-coaster

A new aquatic centre and modernization of the central library were the top two priorities for the people in Regina. The event centre came in third.

Reid acknowledges that people are uneasy about spending when it comes to civic infrastructure. Inflation continues to grow, a potential recession looms and borrowing costs continue to climb.

“One of the feedback components that we are hearing from the public is to be mindful of where we are (economically),” says Reid.

Click to play video: 'Food insecurity, prices rising despite inflation dip'

Food insecurity, prices rising despite inflation dip

Rob Vanstone has been covering the Pats since 1988 with the Regina Leader-Post. Now sports editor, he’s watched from the press box as decades of Pats fans enjoyed games at the Brandt Centre.

Story continues below advertisement

“It’s hard to believe it’s elapsed that quickly, I’ve been watching the Pats since 1971.”

Vanstone says he’s never seen the arena so energetic at this time during the season. “The semifinal in 2001; I don’t think I’ve ever heard the building louder, there have been some playoff runs that the team has been on, but when you are talking about the building being as electric as it is in January. That’s pretty rare.”

In 2017, Regina watched as the long-standing home of the Roughriders, Taylor Feild, was put to rest. Vanstone draws comparisons between Taylor Field and the Brandt Centre. ” It’s got to the same point with the Brandt Centre as it has with Mosaic Stadium or Taylor field – how much is it going to cost to patch it up just to get another 10-15 years out of it?”

Read more: Regina city council announces plans for city centre transit, Taylor Field housing development

Read next: Parks Canada updating its reservation system to book camping and other activities

According to Reid, a Brandt Centre revival would cost in the ballpark of $16 million. A new arena would cost $ 100 million plus land acquisition costs depending on when a site is declared. Reid looks at a new arena as an investment for the future, not just a revival.

“We need to start talking about what’s going to serve us for the next 50 years of community and not just hockey. Concerts, Remembrance Day, community gatherings, all the things that we love,” Reid says. “If we are not competitive enough, they are just going to go to other cities.”

Story continues below advertisement

The Catalyst Committee is expected to provide its recommendations to city council in the coming months.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source