What Happens When Jocks Drive Civic Priorities

When someone in sports says something dumb and tweaks the other team, it’s called ‘trash talking’ and ’bulletin board material.’Here’s bulletin board material for every municipal infrastructure planner, courtesy of the May 26, 2013 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press — a column by former Blue Bomber defensive lineman Doug Brown:

“If you’ve ever wondered what effect a first-rate facility and environment can have on a professional football franchise, 2013 will be the year we all find out.”

So it’s hard to get in and out of Investors Group Field, the designers and constructors, in their infinite wisdom, built it with an outdoor press box (in Winnipeg), the facility’s neighbors aren’t happy with the noise levels and traffic, the total cost of the stadium has skyrocketed from the original $110 million to $190 million – and, according to this Winnipeg alt-news website, beyond that – and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are 1-4. They had a couple thousand empty seats as they stumbled, bumbled, and fumbled their way to a 37-24 loss to Calgary. The new stadium was promoted as a major drawing card that would ensure good attendance for many years, based on the novelty effect alone. Instead, it’s a ‘meh’ factor three games into its existence.

So, using the logic of the Freep writer and ex-jock, either the Blue Bombers aren’t a professional football franchise, the city, province and Bombers spent more than $200 million on a facility that isn’t first rate, or … ?

Things to think about as the new Rider stadium discussion continues in the ‘monorail, Monorail, MONORAIL!’ phase.

Author: Stephen LaRose

2006 winner of the Canadian Association of University Teachers's Award of Excellence in Journalism for a bunch of prairie dog stuff. Invited into the best homes in Regina. Once.

14 thoughts on “What Happens When Jocks Drive Civic Priorities”

  1. Would never happen here.

    Councilor Hincks has guaranteed our stadium will be profitable and real estate values only go up. Just because he promotes his own personal business in fumbling speeches at every council meeting doesn’t mean he has a glaring conflict of interest. That’s just a coincidence!

    Next thing you’re going to be saying that BC Place, the Skydome, Montreal’s Big O, and the brand new and empty Florida Marlins stadium should be lessons to us. It’s Regina. We’re different. We use special economic magic where 200,000 residents can afford to live like ballers.

    The Roughriders 2013 performance just proves that until we get a domed stadium, the team will never succeed on or off the field, fans won’t come, and they won’t enjoy themselves ;-p

  2. Great comment, ( or is it a reply? ), Reader.

    Plopping a new #yqr stadium on Elphinstone street, beside the track, won’t create Game Day driving Hell at all. 2 of the 3 ways ,(driving ), to the coliseum, involve going through the Evraz parking lot.

  3. But, I spoke briefly with Melissa Fiacco at O’hanlon’s the other day and she cleared everything up for me. The problem is that stadium detractors need to “educate themselves”. Sigh!

  4. This is all rumor and I for one would appreciate knowing how much or how little of the story is factual.

    But the rumor goes that the stadium location was dictated by two things:

    1: free land misappropriated from the exhibition association to help show an artifically low project price tag


    2: the questionable compliance of the evraz exhibition leaders in letting their land go.

    The rumor makes some sense. Those who should have loudly objected to their property being taken were strangely silent. Then just a few months later, Evraz exhibition personnel were quietly handed plush jobs running the new stadium.

    Some are wondering if that was ever put to an open competition, or were these jobs a reward for not saying anything when the land got poached?

    If it was a quid pro quo deal in which land was given in exchange for patronage jobs, the entire ethics of the situation should be presented for public scrutiny.

    It’s the kind of thing that would make for a great series of articles if a news magazine were to check into it and see if those rumors are true.

  5. Brad, is that the same Melissa Fiacco that inexplicably landed a job at the REDA/RROC?

    You know, that direct branch of the City of Regina that was obscurely rebranded and relocated to create a false impression that it was somehow independent and impartial?

    The one with Neil Donnelly on the board? The same Neil Donnelly that runs Evraz place? And was handed a new stadium job? And the Grey Cup CEO position? Not too many conflicts there.

    The same RROC that lent Meka Okochi to last fall’s election campaign? The same Meka Okochi that perfectly split the opposition vote and greased the rails for Fougere’s victory?

    Do you mean the same RROC whose website brags “We are currently hiring!” but their job opportunities list says “RROC currently has no open positions”

    Just wondering.

  6. There is so much about this article, and so little time to talk about it on here. All I’m going to say is – Reader – the comments/rumours you bring up – are completely and 100% what has been going through the pipelines in Regina during the course of the last year or so. If you follow the papertrail, it definitely does raise some serious red flags. Red flags that any other City’s mainstream media would be all over in a heartbeat. Not saying Prairie Dog isn’t mainstream, but they’ve been the only ones to actually publish anything that’s worth while in terms of what is truly going on at City Hall, or at least questioning things that happen there. That must be why they are loved so much by Fougere and Hincks.

    You did miss one thing, though, Reader – Neil Donnelly is also the younger brother to Marian Donnelly, who also kindly helped split the “No to Fougere” Vote. Oh and there is also rumour that Mr. Reid Pedersen, brother to the Voice of the Riders, is also partially responsible for the kickoff to the shennanigans that plagued my campaign through the Social Media world.

    But, then, that’s just crazy talk! I mean, why on Earth would REAL (Donnelly/Pedersen) want to do anything to influence voters decisions on candidates that could truly have an impact on their new cushy jobs in the new stadium – if one was to elect such a candidate. Why would they want to inentionally run two candidates that they KNEW wouldn’t win the vote, but WOULD take enough votes away from any other candidate. Fund the hell out of them both officially and unofficially, and bam, you have your winner Ladies and Gentlemen!

    Not that Melissa Fiacco, her daddy, the Voice of the Riders, or Fougere would have anything to lose on that one either – or RROC, REAL, Roughriders, Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Saskatchewan and the City of Regina. Nope. Nothing to see here, folks.

    Look – MONORAIL!!

  7. Well Chad, some (all?) of the connections and what you are implying could just be explained by Regina’s small town nature and the prevalence of people helping out their friends and family.

    My hope is for a proper investigative and objective look at these situations. I’ve pretty much given up hope that the major media will ever do that, but maybe someone at Prairiedogmag will want to take up the challenge.

  8. Splitting the vote against who? Donnelly and Okochi were 2nd and 3rd, with the 4th with 5% and the rest with less than 1%. Pretty sure Donnelly and Okochi were in it to win it. A LOT more plausible than some mafia driven Illuminati reptilian conspiracy.

  9. All I see here is another attempt of opportunity grasping from the PD to use a couple stories involving Winnipeg’s new stadium and portray Regina’s new upcoming stadium in a negative light. Rider Nation isn’t reading the Prairie Dog much nowadays, are they?

  10. Bah, it was going to be my last comment of the day, but then I had to go check on this old comment. As I said, I only spoke with Melissa briefly. The reason it was brief was because I found her approach to be more defensive, combative, and emotional then I look for in a pub discussion. I prefer cold, rational, impersonal, and civil debate, especially when it comes to politics. Seeing the response unleashed by her name’s mention in this comment section, I’m beginning to understand why she acted the way she did. I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t officially distance myself from the aspersions, innuendo, rumour-mongering and personal attacks seen here.

    Melissa — while I didn’t appreciate your implication that stadium critics like me were uneducated about the project — I sincerely apologize for bringing a fairly innocuous interaction to this venue and subjecting you to the vitriol above. Next time I see you I’ll buy you a beer (or the adult beverage of your choosing).

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