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Canadian Premier League expands to Saskatchewan, with hurdles still to overcome

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The ownership group hopes to build a soccer-specific stadium at Prairieland Park.

The official Canadian Premier League ball at The Island Games
Canadian Premier League/ Chant Photography

BURLINGTON, Canada—The Canadian Premier League announced on Friday morning that the ninth club in league history will be based in Saskatchewan.

Contingent on the building of a soccer-specific stadium, Saskatchewan-based company Living Sky Sports and Entertainment Inc. (LSSE), created for the purpose of launching a soccer team in Saskatchewan, will own the club.

“On behalf of the Board of Governors, we are pleased to make this announcement today as we know we have a very supportive and engaged community of soccer fans in Saskatchewan and have since we launched the League,” said Canadian Premier League Commissioner David Clanachan in a press release. “We are extremely hopeful that LSSE will be able to meet the League soccer-specific stadium requirements so that we can begin celebrating Canadian soccer in Saskatoon.”

Prairieland Park is a site in Saskatoon famous for the annual Saskatoon Exhibition, and also home to Marquis Downs, a horse race track. LSSE haven’t secured the site at Prairieland Park yet, but it’s the preferred location.

The riverside location looks to be an impressive potential venue for a soccer stadium.

“When Prairieland was approached about the possibility of a soccer stadium at the Park, we felt compelled to consider whether such an infrastructure project could enhance the long-term sustainability of the Park, as well as contribute meaningfully to the City of Saskatoon,” said Mark Regier, CEO of Prairieland Park in a press release. “While we have not come to a definitive answer, Prairieland has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with LSSE. The signing of the MOU, therefore, marks the end of thoroughbred racing at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon.

“We feel it is our responsibility to embrace the possibility of new opportunities and address the rapid pace of change in our core businesses and services. We look forward to working with LSSE to understand whether a stadium at Prairieland is in our best long-term interests.”

LSSE, as mentioned above, was incorporated with the goal of bringing a team to Saskatchewan. The founder and CEO of LSSE is Alan Simpson, a Saskatchewan native and founder of StorageVault Canada, as well as the co-founder of Hospitality Network Canada.

“We are excited about being part of the Canadian Premier League’s expansion plans for Saskatchewan,” said Simpson in a press release. “Signing the Agreement in Principle gives us the opportunity to bring the CPL and professional soccer to the province.

“By acquiring the exclusive rights to a CPL expansion club, we can immediately begin work on our first task, which is the development and financing of a soccer-ready stadium, suitable to CPL league wide standards, but more importantly, begin supporting the dream many Canadian kids have of playing pro soccer in their own province and country,” he added.

There is no word on when the unnamed team will join the league, and is contingent on the owners building a stadium, so it certainly won’t be for the 2021 season. 2023 seems like the most realistic target date given the amount of work that needs to be done.

The announcement of a new club was something of a surprise, only really being hinted at for the first time on Thursday night.