Credit Union Centre

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Credit Union Centre
CUC
CreditUnionCentrelogo.png
AgriplaceCredit Union Centre.jpg
Full name Credit Union Sports & Entertainment Centre
Former names Saskatchewan Place (1988-2004)[1]
Location 3315 Thatcher Ave
Saskatoon, SK S7R 1C4
Canada
Broke ground 11 September 1986 (1986-09-11)[2]
Opened 9 February 1988 (1988-02-09)
Expanded 1990, 2009
Owner City of Saskatoon
Construction cost $24.8 million
($46.5 million in 2014 dollars[3])

$6.7 million (2009 expansion)[4]
($7.22 million in 2014 dollars[3])
Architect Thomas Ferguson Architect, Ltd[5]
PBK Architects, Inc.[5]
Structural engineer Cochrane Lavalin Consulting Engineers[5]
General contractor Carlson Constructors, Ltd.
Capacity 15,195[6]
Website Venue Website
Tenants
Saskatoon Blades (WHL) (1988–present)
Saskatchewan Storm (WBL) (1990-92)
Saskatoon Slam (NBL) (1992-93)
Saskatchewan Huskies (ice hockey) (CIS) (1995-present)
Saskatchewan Hawks (IBA, CBA) (1999-2001)
Saskatchewan SWAT (RMLL) (2007)
Saskatoon Accelerators (CMISL (2007-09)
Saskatoon Sirens (LFL Canada) (2012-present)

Credit Union Centre (commonly referred to as the C.U.C. and originally Saskatchewan Place or SaskPlace) is an arena located in the Agriplace Industrial Park, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Situated near the city's northern entrance, the facility opened in February, 1988 with a seating capacity of around 7,800.[7] It was expanded to 11,330 for the World Junior Hockey Championships in 1990.[8] More additional permanent seating was added in 2008 and 2009. The current capacity is now 15,190 for hockey.[9] It is the home venue of the Saskatoon Blades hockey team and starting in 2012 is also home to the Saskatoon Sirens in the LFL Canada league.[10]

It has free parking on site with parking space for 4,000 cars on its property. For most publicly attended events, transit service is offered from downtown. For high attendance events extra transit links are offered from shopping centres and other locations.[9] It has hosted performances by many leading acts and has been the site of numerous national and international events. In 2005, it was the site of the main concert celebrating Saskatchewan's 100th anniversary as a province of Canada. The performance was attended by Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada and the Duke of Edinburgh. In September 2008, it was announced that 2,981 seats would be added to the open west-end of the stadium, bringing the total capacity to 14,311 and 12,000 for full concerts. As well, 1,000 temporary seats will be added for the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships.[11]

Local newspaper, The StarPhoenix, reported the arena will cease current naming on 1 November 2014, when its rights deal with Saskatchewan's alliance of credit unions expires.[1]

Early proposals[edit]

The interior of Credit Union Centre prior to a Saskatoon Blades game.

SaskPlace was constructed as a replacement for the Saskatoon Arena, a concrete building constructed in Saskatoon's downtown core in the 1930s, and which was in use until 1988, hosting its final hockey game only a week before SaskPlace opened. Nicknamed "The Barn", the facility had outlived its usefulness some 20 years earlier and had become infamous for leaky roofs and substandard amenities, yet Saskatonians were hesitant to lose the landmark and a number of years passed between the 1970s proposal to replace the structure and the eventual demolition of the Arena and the opening of SaskPlace.

In 1982, Bill Hunter, a local sports promoter, attempted to purchase the St. Louis Blues NHL team and bring it to Saskatoon. Part of his plan included building an 18,000-seat arena. Two locations were suggested: the site of a decommissioned power plant downtown, just west of the then-present Saskatoon Arena, and another site east of the city's airport in the North Industrial area. Despite Hunter's best efforts, the NHL rejected his offer and Hunter's plans to relocate an NHL team and build a new arena collapsed.

The site eventually chosen for SaskPlace/Credit Union Centre was initially, and still is, unpopular with some Saskatoon residents. Situated in the remote Agri Place industrial park at the north end of the city, accessible only via highways 11 and 16 and Marquis Drive, SaskPlace was accused of being too inconvenient for seniors and people of limited transportation to access, as opposed to the original downtown arena site which was close to most bus routes. The city's original plan was to relocate Saskatoon's exhibition grounds alongside SaskPlace as well, but this proposal was defeated in a civic plebiscite following public protest over access and safety concerns. Plans to build interchanges on the two major access routes into the facility were announced soon after the arena opened, but as of 2010 construction has yet to occur. However, in the past twenty years, the city has grown to the north, so that while at the time of its construction there wasn't anything around the arena, it is now surrounded by other buildings.

In the early 2000s, Saunders Avenue, which is a street leading into the parking lot of Credit Union Centre, was renamed Bill Hunter Avenue in honour of Bill Hunter, who died in 2002. This was considered ironic by many Saskatonians, given Hunter lobbied for the facility to be built in another location. The city then transferred the 'Saunders' name to a new street in the River Landing redevelopment area—running through the former site of the Saskatoon Arena.

Credit Union Centre should not be confused with Union Centre, a building located on the west side of the city. Union Centre opened in the mid-1970s and housed offices and meeting facilities (which were rented out for community events) of various Saskatoon-based trade unions. In the late 1990s it was sold and converted to other uses (it is no longer referred to as Union Centre). In 2005, the building was sold to the Saskatoon Health Region, who converted the building into a community clinic. The building is located at 3311 Fairlight Drive.

Expansion for 2010 World Juniors[edit]

In 2008/2009 the arena was renovated for the World Juniors.[9] There were 2,981 seats added to the upper deck at the west end of the arena increasing the capacity of the arena at more than 15,000. The cost of the expansion was pegged at C$6.7 M. C$2 M was requested as a loan from the city of Saskatoon and C$3 M from a provincial grant. Hockey Canada may have also contributed about C$500,000. The expansion also includes extra washrooms and concessions.[11] The expansion also included the addition of 14 more corporate box seats, bringing the total to 44 and enlarged and improved player facilities such as dressing rooms, weight rooms, coach`s room, equipment room, player`s lounge and medical room.[6]

At about this time, there was a proposal from Ice Edge Holdings to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and begin playing five of the Coyotes' home games each season in Credit Union Centre beginning in December 2009. The logic behind the move, which parallels the Bills Toronto Series in the NFL, was that although Saskatoon was likely too small to support an NHL team of its own, it would easily be able to sell out the Credit Union Centre for one game each month.[12] By May 2011, Ice Edge Holdings abandoned its plan to purchase the team and, with it, the plans for the Coyotes to play in Saskatoon.[13]

The Credit Union Centre hosted an NHL exhibition game in 2011 when the Edmonton Oilers hosted one of their games there. In 2012 the Winnipeg Jets were scheduled to play an exhibition game but was cancelled due to the NHL lockout. Instead they will play on September 27, 2013 vs the Boston Bruins. The Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames will also play on September 16, 2013.

Major events[edit]

On February 9, 1988, Saskatchewan Place was opened to host its first event; a Western Hockey League game won by the home team Saskatoon Blades 4-3 over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. Buffalo Sabres draft pick Grant Tkachuk scored the first ever goal on Saskatchewan Place ice, beating Brandon goalie George Maneluk at 12:35 of the first period.[14]

On October 12, 1992, Canadian wrestling legend Bret Hart defeated Ric Flair to capture his first WWF Championship. Bret's father, legendary Hart family patriarch Stu, was born and raised in Saskatoon.

In 1995, Billy Graham made a surprise appearance at a Franklin Graham festival at SaskPlace, and brought George Beverly Shea with him.

In 2005, the facility hosted a gala command performance concert for Queen Elizabeth in honour of Saskatchewan's centennial and in 2007 it was the venue for the 2007 Juno Awards. Both events were broadcast nationally.

On October 29, 2011, Cirque du Soleil performed Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour for over 10,000 people to honour the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

On September 28, 2014, the Chicago Blackhawks face-off against the Edmonton Oilers in a National Hockey League pre-season match-up.[15]

Attendance records[edit]

  • The largest crowd for a concert at the arena, was 14,605, set on August 14, 1996 for a Garth Brooks tour stop.
  • The largest crowd for a Saskatoon Blades game, was 12,588, set on February 9, 2013 in a game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Tenants[edit]

Team League Years Notes
Saskatchewan Storm World Basketball League 199092 Folded during 1992 season.
Saskatchewan Hawks International Basketball Association, Continental Basketball Association 19992001 Folded during the 2001 off-season
Saskatchewan SWAT Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League 2007 Split its games between Credit Union Centre and Kinsmen Arena.
Saskatoon Accelerators Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League 2007-09 Moved to Henk Ruys Soccer Centre for 2010 season.
Saskatoon Blades Western Hockey League 1988-
Saskatoon Sirens LFL Canada 2012-
Saskatoon Slam National Basketball League 199394 Folded during 1994 season
University of Saskatchewan Huskies Canadian Interuniversity Sport 1995- Held Chill Out Tournament at Credit Union Centre (1995–97) and various regular season games.

Major tournaments and events hosted[edit]

Tournament/Event Sport/Event Year(s) Notes
Labatt/Nokia/Tim Hortons Brier Men's Curling 1989; 2000; 2004; 2012 Alberta won the tournament in 1989, British Columbia won the tournament in 2000, Nova Scotia won the tournament in 2004 and Ontario won the tournament in 2012.
CHL Memorial Cup Hockey 1989, 2013 Swift Current Broncos won the tournament in 1989 and Halifax Mooseheads won the tournament in 2013.
IIHF World Under-20 Championship Hockey 1990–91; 2009–10 Canada won gold at the tournament in 1991 and the United States won gold in 2010.
Scott Tournament of Hearts Women's Curling 1991 British Columbia won the tournament.
Canada Cup Hockey 1991 Was one of several host facilities for the tournament.
CHL Top Prospects Game Hockey 1992, 2002 Team West won 5–4 in 1992, Team Tiger won 7–4 in 2002.
CIS University Cup Hockey 1998, 1999, 2000, 2013, 2014 New Brunswick won the tournament in 1998 and 2013 and Alberta won the tournament in 1999, 2000 and 2014.
FIVB Women's Junior Volleyball World Championship Women's Volleyball 1999 Russia won the tournament.
Juno Awards Canadian Music Award Show 2007
Canada/Russia Super Series Hockey 2007 Game 6 of the series held at Credit Union Centre.
Masters of Curling - Capital One Grand Slam of Curling Men's Curling 2008 Glenn Howard's rink won the tournament.
Warped Tour Music festival 2008

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Menz, Kevin (31 July 2013). "Arena naming rights up for grabs". The StarPhoenix. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Kenney, John (11 September 1986). "Ground Breaking Ceremony for the New Arena in Saskatoon". The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada. "Consumer Price Index, historical summary". CANSIM, table (for fee) 326-0021 and Catalogue nos. 62-001-X, 62-010-X and 62-557-X. And Consumer Price Index, by province (monthly) (Canada) Last modified 2013-12-20. Retrieved January 8, 2014
  4. ^ "SASKATOON CREDIT UNION CENTRE RECEIVES $3 MILLION" (Press release). Regina, Saskatchewan: Government of Saskatchewan. 4 November 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Yanko, Dave (21 December 1985). "B.C. firm may get piece of arena action". The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). p. A1. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Technical Information". Credit Union Centre. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ "History". Credit Union Centre. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ "About Us". Credit Union Centre. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c "Renovations". Credit Union Centre. Retrieved December 27, 2010. 
  10. ^ "BREAKING: LFL Canada - Saskatoon Awarded Franchise for 2012 Season". Lingerie Football League. February 28, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Nickel, Rod (September 3, 2008). "CUC Adds 3,000 Seats Council Gives Preliminary Nod to Howe Bowl, Arena Expansion". The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon). pp. A1 
  12. ^ "Bidder has ice booked in Saskatoon". Faceoff.com. September 1, 2009. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  13. ^ Francis, Eric (May 7, 2011). "NHL Exec Says Officials Won’t Stand for Diving". Toronto Sun. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  14. ^ http://www2.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/sports/story.html?id=0de2e0de-f57d-4a15-b957-40f7d1c28cd3&p=2
  15. ^ http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=704000

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°11′20″N 106°40′44″W / 52.189°N 106.679°W / 52.189; -106.679