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Event Centre third-party named; working with CSEC, City on kickstarting Calgary arena talks

Calgary’s Event Centre committee has third-party help and right now it’s working as an intermediary between the City and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC).

The announcement was made after a closed session of committee that lasted more than two hours Wednesday afternoon.  After that, they made the names of the third-party team public.

John Fisher, Guy Huntingford and Phil Swift will be stickhandling between the City and CSEC for now. Fisher is the executive vice president of CBRE Canada in Calgary. Huntingford is the director of strategic initiatives with the real estate group NAIOP. Phil Swift is the founder and executive director of the Ayrshire Group, a private investment firm.

“They bring expertise in commercial real estate development, finance, and we would characterize them as a team third party, a third-party team,” said City of Calgary Planning and Development GM Stuart Dalgleish.

In the weeks after the failed deal, the Event Centre committee was struck, with the intention of having a third party. That third party, initially, was to look at a potential reunion with CSEC, and also explore other potential partnerships.

Dalgleish confirmed that at this time, the third party was only working with the City of Calgary and CSEC.

“We are at a stage where our third party is having discussions with both the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and the City of Calgary with a view to determining whether there is interest in discussions toward a new event center,” Dalgleish said.

Unified in seeing an Event Centre built: Coun. Sonya Sharp

Event Centre committee chair, Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, said a lot of work has been put in to get to this point. Sharp said the first hurdle was rebuilding the relationship.

“We’ve done that, we’re on our way,” she said.

“And then the other piece of this is unified. Everybody wants an event center built. So, now we’re going to move forward, and with administration, with a third party, the Event Center committee is working towards that goal.”

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who was criticized by many for being party to the original deal’s collapse, said the committee’s done a great job getting to this point.

“Today’s news is good news,” she said.  

“And we need to be patient with what comes following this. I think the playoffs is something that we’re all focused on right now. So, let’s keep our eyes on that prize right now.”

Sharp doubled down on that Stanley Cup focus. As she’s said in the past, it’s not if a deal’s done, it’s when.  For now, CSEC has a different focus.

“Right now, I’m pretty sure CSEC’s very, very focused on something, you know, called Stanley Cup,” Sharp said.

“So, let’s let them do what they need to do. And let’s let administration do what they need to do. And the most important thing is we’re going to get this right.”

The committee cancelled an early June meeting but is expected to reconvene in July.