For years I have had a grudge against Prairieland Park. First of all, they tore down the historic Exhibition Arena which for some odd reason, I tended to play better there (and worse at Cosmo Arena). The arena was old, smelled like a barn, had chain link fencing instead of Plexiglas but had a lot of character. It was also home to hot Dr. Pepper which if you have never had it, you are missing out. I still miss the old arena.
Secondly, they took out Wheatland â€œAâ€ and â€œBâ€ arenas which may have been the second worse idea in the history of Saskatoon (the bus mall is by far the worst) but it was a lot of fun to play at.
With Prairieland Park out of the hockey business, they got really, really good at the convention business. The last month saw it hold Homescape, Gardenscape, and Draggins Rod and Custom Car Show. The report that came back from all three shows was a) it was excellent and b) it was way too crowded. Wendy and I tried to go to Gardenscape but there was just no parking and while we went early to Draggins and missed the worse of the crowds, it was shoulder to shoulder in there. Yes there was the Batmobile but the big issue is that while Saskatoon has grown, Prairieland Parkâ€™s facilities havenâ€™t kept pace with the demand.
I remember the debate about the building location of Saskatchewan Place back in 1986. The idea behind moving Saskatchewan Place outside of the city was the potential of tradeshows, events, and conferences going out there. The building of Titan Auto Place seemed to reinforce the idea that conferences were headed north. That seemed to be the way of the future until Prairieland Park was denied infrastructure dollars to move north and instead decided to upgrade and improve their facilities. According to the website they have done $16 million in capital improvements and now have over 200,000 square feet in convention space.
In doing such a fabulous job, they became Saskatoonâ€™s premier convention and conference destination. Not only have they upgrade facilities, they are really easy to deal with. At work, our annual Toy Ride starts at Prairieland Park every year and each year, Prairieland Park staff is both accommodating and friendly to deal with as they go a long ways in making the event a success. (for the record, so is the Saskatoon Inn, where the event ends)
I donâ€™t know where they would add the space but for the last couple of years I have been out there, I canâ€™t help but feeling as if they could use one more big hall. Not just for the conferences but even for the Ex. Itâ€™s just crowded in there. I am not sure where Hall â€œFâ€ will go but make sure it serves hot Dr. Pepper during the winter at itâ€™s concession stands.