The NHL Has No Interest In Placing A Franchise In Saskatoon

Seattle yes, Saskatoon  no.


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan elected officials are thinking about replacing the city’s current arena, the building that 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 investors are waiting of the Board of Governors’ green light so they can have an NHL team. The NHL maybe eyeing Houston and European cities but it is unlikely that Saskatoon is on anybody’s radar for an NHL expansion team.

But Saskatoon is looking to replace the city’s 30-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. Convergence Design consultant David Gruesel also thinks the present arena is in the wrong part of town and a new building should being closer to downtown. Other building problems include the lack of kitchen space to make food for customers attending events and small dressing rooms. The consultants recommended that Saskatoon officials find money and build a new arena that renovating a 30-year-old building would be a waste of time and money. The Saskatoon plan could include an arena-village which could feature a library but the NHL isn’t coming to town.


Martin Brodeur