Saskatoon’s long-sought pro soccer dream put on hold indefinitely


Plans for a multi-million-dollar FIFA-compliant soccer stadium in Saskatoon have been put on hold indefinitely.

Prairieland and Living Sky Sports & Entertainment announced last year that they planned to have shovels in the ground in spring 2023 for a soccer stadium, with the goal of having a team ready for kick-off of the 2024 season of the Canadian Premier League (CPL).

However, with a news release Tuesday announcing the pause on the stadium, the timeline has taken a hit.

“Sometimes in business you have to make these tough decisions where you just have to put a pause on things,” Prairieland CEO Dan Kemppainen said.

Prairieland CEO Dan Kemppainen said the stadium plans were paused due to changing economical landscapes. (Shlok Talati/CBC)

Prairieland announced that it’s pausing the stadium, with no future plans in place, because of changing economical landscapes. Kemppainen cited interest rates, inflation and other rising costs.

“When the economic situation changes and it looks favourable to embark down this road again, we’ll certainly do that — or certainly take a look at it, I should say.”

In a media briefing last year, Prairieland board chair Steve Chisholm said the 5500-seat soccer stadium was estimated to cost roughly $28 million. Additionally, the new stadium would have the potential to expand to 8,000 seats in the future, according to the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority’s (SREDA) CPL soccer stadium economic impact study from 2021.

The proposed site of the stadium was Marquis Downs, the space formerly used for horse racing in the city.

Last year, Prairieland and Living Sky Sports took their case to a City of Saskatoon committee, requesting $8 million in public funds in $1 million annual instalments to help finance the project. However, Kemppainen said they never got to the stage of putting in a formal request for the funds.

“Soccer is still the number 1 sport in the world and it’s rapidly growing in Canada, North America, Saskatchewan and Saskatoon,” Kemppainen said. “I think that interest won’t wane, it will continue to grow and, again, if sometime in the future maybe this project comes back up again and we can start it up again.”

A graphic representation showing arrows and numbers to depict the impact of the stadium on the province's economy.
A SREDA economic impact study from 2021 estimated the stadium would have $83.05 million in operations and tourism economic impact over 10 years. (Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority)

Lee Kormish is a soccer fan from Saskatoon who has been to stadiums around the world to watch games. He said the news of local stadium plans being dropped was disappointing.

“I would like nothing more than to have that [soccer stadium] in my home city. So when the promise was made and we were looking toward getting a CPL franchise and it was announced that a stadium would be built, it was elation. We had so many people excited about this project. So for me to know that it’s not happening, it’s sad,” Kormish said.

LISTEN | Prarieland Park is putting its proposed outdoor soccer stadium on hold: 

Saskatoon Morning7:35Prarieland Park is putting its proposed outdoor soccer stadium on hold

Guest host Theresa Kliem soccer fanatic Lee Kormish about Prairieland Park putting a proposed outdoor soccer stadium on hold indefinitely and what that means to the soccer community.

The CPL currently has eight teams from five different provinces of the country. Saskatchewan is the only Prairie province not on the roster. Kormish said this was the city’s opportunity to bring fans from across the province to showcase what Saskatoon had to offer.

“Saskatoon’s a great city and when you’re in the Premier League, the highest soccer league in the country, you’re able to showcase your city and your province. Now that’s kind of taken away from us.”

In its presentation, Prairieland had said the stadium wouldn’t be exclusive to soccer events. Instead, the facility could also double as an outdoor concert venue and be used by other sports groups, such as cricket and rugby teams.

WATCH | Prairieland Soccer Stadium Plans: 

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