Is Saskatoon Angling For Another Chance At An NHL Team?

The NHL isn’t interested.  

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan elected officials are again thinking about replacing the city’s current arena, the building that once could have housed a National Hockey League team.  In 1983, the Ralston Purina Company sold the St. Louis Blues franchise to Saskatchewan investors. The NHL blocked the move which set off a flurry of lawsuits. The NHL concluded Saskatoon was too small a city, with at that time just a population of 160,000, to be an economically feasible NHL market. In 2012, there were stories that Saskatoon investors were ready to make another pitch to the NHL for a franchise. The NHL added Las Vegas in 2017 and Seattle will join the league in 2021. The NHL could be eyeing Houston or European cities as markets. Saskatoon is not on anybody’s radar for an NHL expansion team.

But Saskatoon is looking to replace the city’s 32-year-old 15,000 seat arena. There is a Western Hockey League junior franchise in the building but getting concerts into the venue is becoming a problem. The concert business makes money for buildings but there seem to be a roof problem in Saskatoon’s arena that precludes some big acts from playing in Saskatoon. The roof structure cannot support the weight of stage equipment that some acts use. Other building problems include the lack of kitchen space to make food for customers attending events and small dressing rooms. Local politicians contend that because the building cannot get top music acts, local businesses are losing millions of dollars in non-arena spending. In 2018, the city hired consultants and they recommended that Saskatoon officials find money and build a new arena because renovating the then 30-year-old building would be a waste of time and money. There is no Saskatoon arena plan at the moment. Local politicians plan to talk about getting a new arena built like they did in 2018.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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