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More detail provided on Calgary Event Centre closeout costs

Information was held in a briefing note that, while available on the public agenda, doesn't get brought up as an agenda item in a public meeting

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she hopes the $16.8 million spent on the previous Event Centre deal ends up getting the city to a better place on a future deal.

Earlier this week, LiveWire Calgary was first to report the final city cost tally in the failed Event Centre deal. That money was for design development, enabling works and additional consulting.

The $650 million arena deal fell through in December 2021.  It was later said that a misalignment on costs between the City and Calgary Sports and Entertainment (CSEC) led to the deal’s collapse. The failure to meet the terms of a construction approval stage gate by Dec. 31, 2021, was the final blow.

In tying up the deal, there were closeout costs accrued by the city, with most of it split 50/50 with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation.

LiveWire Calgary was provided further detail on the makeup of the $16.8 million in costs on Thursday.

According to the city, $14.2 million included the following components:

  • – Building design, which was approved for a development permit.
  • – Enabling work, which includes utility work (relocating or reinstating) and pavement/asphalt rehab due to the utility work.
  • – The enabling work that was completed contributes to the construction work already underway as part of the River’s District

This amount was 50 per cent of the total cost accrued between the two sides, as per the prior agreement.

Also included was $2.6 million in city-only transactional costs, bringing the total amount to $16.8 million.  That amount included a temporary parking lot on the north side of 11 Avenue SE.

“This is very normal for projects that end up going through the process and closing out,” Coun. Sonya Sharp, Chair of the Event Centre committee, said earlier this week.  

Mayor optimistic things were learned

Mayor Gondek told LWC in the upcoming, member-exclusive Mayor and Me podcast that she’s hopeful the work done prior will help inform a potential future deal.

The mayor was optimistic that much was learned in the prior process.

As for the money spent, Mayor Gondek said this would likely be an aspect of future negotiations.

“I would like to think that the money we spent on the previous deal, was something that will get us to a better place if we have a future deal in play,” she said.

The Event Centre cost item was included in a briefing titled Mid-year Operating and Capital Budget Revisions Report.  It was included as a paragraph near the top of that briefing.  The briefing indicated that the final Event Centre costs coincided with the delivery of the revisions report.

A briefing isn’t brought up or discussed as an item in a public meeting, though it is available in the public agenda.

When asked why this wasn’t an item added to the agenda for potential discussion or questions, both Gondek and Sharp deferred to admin. Though, Mayor Gondek did slightly elaborate on her response.

“They have tools by which they bring information to council, and they have chosen to bring it in this manner,” she said.

“I’d be very interested to know what led to that decision.”

Later, in a noon scrum with reporters during Thursday’s Executive Committee meeting, the Mayor said the Event Centre would likely be the arbiter of further information release.

“It’s a starting point of disclosure. (It) certainly doesn’t have to be the end point,” the mayor said.

City admin provided a response on Thursday afternoon.

“Now that we’ve formally closed the chapter on the previous Event Centre agreements, we’ll continue our work with CSEC to determine if there’s a path forward to a new Event Centre,” said Planning & Development Service GM, Stuart Dalgleish.

“We chose to include the full cost of our work and existing capital budget in the Mid-year Operating and Capital Budget Revisions Report because it provided an appropriate and timely venue to disclose the information publicly, as we had committed to for September.”