Sat Sep 21 2019

Saskatoon Keeps Setting the Pace

Written by Jim Germain

Northern lights above trees and a parking lot

Saskatoon has made the maps internationally on the New York Times and USA Today designation lists as one of their 52 places to go in 2018, been part of the reason Saskatchewan boasted record hits on Province's website, and been given a progressive label given by the wife of James Cameron. Now the Gordie Howe Sports Complex is generating a lot of enthusiasm by creating something unprecedented in Western Canada, maybe even nationally and internationally.

When construction of the master plan is complete in 2020, the world-class complex will attract young children just learning to play a sport, older athletes, international competitors, and professionals like the Saskatchewan Roughriders, along with their supporters.

Equally exhilarating is the long-list of sports to happen there: track and field, softball, baseball, football, speed skating, Nordic and cross-country skiing, skating, soccer, lacrosse, varied secondary school sports, and ultimate frisbee.With the addition of a training and rehabilitation centre, which provides year-round opportunities for all sports, the number of visitors to Gordie Howe Sports Complex is expected to climb to 175,000 + each year. That's a big leap. The complex now attracts 25,000 athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and fans annually to local, provincial, national and international events. (Friends of the Bowl).

Amazingly, it wasn't that long ago, that Good Ol' Howe Bowl was being designated for non use. Some city counsellors and others then, deemed it too expensive to upkeep and only usable for some athletes. I remember lamenting the negativity surrounding the Howe Bowl controversy with Kelly Bowers, when some high school football games were beginning to be transferred to the Sasktel Sports Centre. We both dreaded the loss of The Bowl, its history of being part the high school experience for everyone, its unique bowl shape settingrare for amateur sports, and its part in making the city a community. Even Saskatoon Police Services gave it the safe approval for high school gatherings and games. I could also tell talking to Kelly that he wasn't going to give up the fight for supporting Howe Bowl. That was then, Thanks to "Friends of the Bowl, this is now:" When construction of the master plan is complete in 2020, the world-class complex will attract young children just learning to participate ins a sport, older athletes, international competitors, professionals like the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and world class events along with their supporters. Regular users of the present complex come from numerous Saskatchewan communities including Allan, Blaine Lake, Colonsay, Dalmeny, Davidson, Dinsmore, Duck Lake, Dundurn, Hafford, Hague, Hanley, Humboldt, Langham, Martensville, Muenster, North Battleford, Outlook, Perdue, Prince Albert, Radisson, Wald- heim, Warman and Watrous. "This project is for anybody and everybody," says Bryan Kosterosk (Friends of the Bowl).

Also beneficial is the economic impact from sports tourism. Events at Howe Bowl will attract teams, coaches and athletes from local, national and even international events. Hotels, restaurants, malls etc, all benefit from sporting events, including businesses along routes to and from Saskatoon. Even further, as sport participation, events and memberships grow, so does the economic spinoff and tax revenue. Everyone benefits, especially the athletes of all ages. Howe Bowl has lifted Saskatoon to the International stage and a leader on the national stage. As one visiting executive from a rival city, speaking of the renovated football stadium at a Hilltops' game said to me, "How in the world are we going to compete with this? Athletes are going to want to come here to train."

It all began with "The Friends of the Bowl."