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Centennial legacy growing in Saskatoon

Minister Yelich touring the expanded Prairieland Park facility
Minister Yelich touring the expanded Prairieland Park facility

Founded in 1886, Prairieland Park is Saskatoon's oldest corporation, and it continues to play a vital role in the life of the city. Prairieland hosts the Saskatoon Exhibition every August, and has always been a popular venue for local and regional events. But two recent expansions are now helping the 136-acre facility attract larger events, bringing economic benefits that extend well beyond the park's boundaries.

In 2006, Prairieland received $4 million in funding from Canada Celebrates Saskatchewan, a Government of Canada initiative to commemorate Saskatchewan's 100th birthday. The initiative invested $36.8 million in more than 710 capital projects, benefitting almost every Saskatchewan community and creating a lasting legacy of the province's centennial. The investment in Prairieland Park helped increase exhibition space by 50,000 square feet. With more than 200,000 square feet, the park now offers Saskatchewan's largest all-under-one-roof trade exposition space.

When Lynne Yelich, now Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, attended the grand opening of the Prairieland Park expansion in March 2007, she said, "Standing here today, I can see how versatile this space will be and how many different types of events will be hosted here. Saskatoon and the surrounding area will be able to take advantage of the facility's increased capacity, accessing a wider range and broader scope of events."

That prediction was right on the money. In 2007, Prairieland hosted the SKILLS Canada Competition, the first time it has been held in Saskatchewan. The event raised the profile of the park, opening up more opportunities to bid on future major events.

Many of those bids were successful. In June 2008, the Federated Cooperatives Marketing Expo brought 3,600 delegates to Saskatoon. And that September, 3,200 people came to the city for the annual USA-Canada Lions Leadership Forum.

"To say that this project greatly exceeded expectations would be an understatement. The new facility has propelled Prairieland Park onto the national stage," said Mark Regier, CEO of Saskatoon Prairieland Park Corporation. "Seven new major trade shows, bringing thousands of people to Saskatoon, now take place in our newly expanded facilities. As a showcase for business, education, culture and entertainment, this expansion provides Prairieland Park with endless opportunities for future growth and development."

Despite their growing success, Prairieland Park had even bigger plans - the addition of a 20,000 square foot agricultural centre. In 2008, WD invested $2.4 million in the project with the Province of Saskatchewan and the City of Saskatoon also contributing.

The latest expansion provides dedicated livestock and related tradeshow space, increasing the Park's capacity to host simultaneous events and creating opportunities to host equine events, cattle shows, stock dog demonstrations and industry trade shows.

The expansions have not only created the equivalent of eight full-time positions, events held at the park increase business for numerous local hotels, restaurants and retail operations. Prairieland Park now hosts more than 320 events each year, attracting 1.6 million people and creating an estimated economic impact of more than $100 million annually.