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Calgary arena deal: How it breaks down

Details are now available on a potential new Calgary arena deal with the Calgary Flames ownership.

The price tag for the $550 million arena project will be split 50/50 between the city and the Calgary Flames. The city’s portion will come from a variety of areas, but primarily the Major Capital Projects Reserve, and Capital Budget Savings. (FULL BREAKDOWN AT THE END.)

The city will also take on $15.4 million in other costs, including land costs and demolition of the Saddledome.

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It’s a 35 year agreement in which the city expects to get $138.7 million in incremental Rivers District property tax, and the city will get $155.1 million in a facility fee over the next 35 years.

Additionally, the city will get a share of the naming rights to the new arena for 10 years.

Artist’s concept of the new Calgary events centre. ROSSETTI / CITY OF CALGARY

The project is expected to seat 19,000 people and the city will own the events centre. That latter aspect has long been a bone of contention with many people opposed to the project.

The city estimates they will get $400 million in return over the 35 year agreement.

“Today is not about selling a pile of magic beans and talking about how much magnificent economic development will occur from this project. This deal makes sense on its own merits,” said Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

The City say they are now looking for public input on the proposal. Council will vote on July 29 on whether the deal should be ratified.


RELEASED Distribtuion Cover Report – Facility Update (Verbal), C2019-0964 by Darren Krause on Scribd

Previous Calgary arena deal negotiations between the City and the Flames broke off in 2017. They resumed late 2018 when city councillors asked to see if the sides could find common ground. Negotiations fell apart again after disagreements over the shared costs.

Late last week, word had come down that there was the framework of a deal in place.

“It’s a complex deal. We all needed to understand each other better and if someone said to me what’s the difference, the difference is that understanding,” said Calgary Sports and Entertainment CEO, Ken King.

“We worked hard to understand each others position and I think we found a fair and equitable way to build our city.”

Artist’s conceptual drawing of potential new Calgary Flames arena, shown at a Calgary Events Centre Assessment Committee meeting. SCREENSHOT / ROSSETTI

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is overseeing the Rivers District redevelopment, where the new event centre will be located.

“I will make this commitment now today, we will build this project on budget, and as Coun. Sutherland reminds me you can come under budget,” said Michael Brown, President and CEO of CMLC.

“We will do that, and it will be on schedule to meet the needs of our partners and most importantly the needs of our community.”

Priorities need to be considered: Tombe

Earlier in the day, a rally was held outside city hall with citizens concerned about the $60 million in cuts that are set to be debated by city hall Tuesday.

University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe said as he looks at the Calgary arena deal, citizens need to understand the commitment they’re making.

“At a time when the city is facing difficult choices to permanently lower spending in many core areas — from fire to police to 9-1-1 services to libraries — one has to look at public funds for the arena with a careful and critical eye,” Tombe said.

“Whether you support the arena or not, we need to recognize the tradeoffs involved in this choice.”

Tombe also said there’s still some unanswered questions in the deal – namely who pays for cost overruns.

History of the ‘dome

In the 1980s the need for a multipurpose facility in the city was growing, according to the Saddledome.

The bid for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games and the arrival of an NHL hockey franchise (the Calgary Flames) led to the establishment of The Saddledome Foundation. The group oversaw its construction and management, and on October 15, 1983 the Saddledome officially opened.

After a $37 million renovation was made to the Saddledome in 1994, country musician Reba McEntire opened the upgraded facility with a sold out concert. However, official re-opening ceremonies were celebrated 11 days later at the Calgary Flames 1995-1996 season home opener.

Flood repairs to the Saddledome

After the 2013 Calgary floods, the Saddledome was under water right up to the ninth row in the lower bowl area. It took weeks of crews working around the clock to get it ready to host its first event: An Eagles concert that September.

Millions was put into that upgrade, much of which was covered by insurance, according to several media sources reporting on it at the time.

Dressing rooms, kitchens, the ice plant – all major functioning areas of the arena were affected in the floods.

Here’s where the city’s cash is coming from. SCREENSHOT

Written with Josie LukeyLiveWire Calgary