It was almost like yesterday was deja vu for all Calgarians, as the City of Calgary, Calgary Stampede, Government of Alberta, and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation officially announced the signing of the contracts that were announced back in April of this year.
After whispers, closed-door sessions, and years of turmoil surrounding the old agreement, the Calgary Flames and the city look to be getting a brand new home.
Now yesterday’s news either came as a sigh of relief, one of the most exciting announcements in recent memory, or even more frustration over the whole process. Let’s take a look at the details and what it means in the long run.
Calgary’s arena deal
The deal that was formalized and announced yesterday consists of the same constructs announced back in April. Here is a summary of what it will cost and where the funding is coming from:
Not cheap at all.
Now in terms of who is fronting the bill for what, it’s split out the following way:
|The City of Calgary||$537.3M to fun the development of the Event Centre, parking structure, the enclosed plaza, and 25% of the community rink.|
|Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation||$330M. $300M to fund transportation improvements, land, infrastructure and site enabling costs, including off-site and on-site utility servicing costs, public realm, and site clearing/demolition. $30M to fund 50% of the community rink.|
|The Province of Alberta||$537.3M to fund the development of the Event Centre, parking structure, the enclosed plaza, and 25% of the community rink.|
|Calgary Stampede||Agreed to certain land sales and transfers that will allow for the development of the Event Centre that enables a vibrant entertainment district surrounding the Event Centre.|
Got all that? Super simple and I’m sure it did not require any back-and-forth whatsoever.
As part of the announcement yesterday, the Province remained adamant that no taxpayer money would be used as part of their contribution. In addition to that, the City of Calgary announced the same back in April. We will see if that holds, especially with the news that any project overruns would be owned by the City.
Construction is set to begin next year, with no specific date set yet. CAA ICON was announced as the actual developers, while HOK and Dialog will handle the designs. The aim will be for the project to be completed by the 2026-27 NHL season, which is extremely optimistic.
It’s clear to everyone in the city, province, and the NHL that the Calgary Flames need a new arena.
It’s also evidently clear that in a perfect world, the billionaire owners of the NHL franchise should be the ones owning the cost.
Despite whatever the parties announced the last few months, there are bound to be additional costs pushed onto fans and residents that probably should not be. Ticket prices will increase, concessions will increase, and taxes will most likely increase somewhere along the supply chain.
This unfortunately was always going to be the result based on all of the conversations that were occurring. The deal was always going to be bad for the City and Province, and amazing for CSEC. It’s not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.
I think it’s completely fair to be both excited about the news, and frustrated that more public money is getting poured into the project. It will be exciting to have a new arena to attract more public events, as well as having a modern arena to watch the Calgary Flames play in, but there will always be those who don’t agree. It’s something that not all Calgarians will use, but those who do will surely appreciate it more than most.
For now, the deal is done, but until shovels are in the ground I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.