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Calgary arena ‘fresh start’ could include a new downtown location

Speculation that the former West Village arena site is back in play

Calgary’s Event Centre plan isn’t fixed on the current Victoria Park location, as the sides are committed to looking at all options for a new arena.

The Event Centre committee held its first meeting of 2023, with the updated information delivered behind closed doors.

When the committee last convened, the city announced that they’d entered formal negotiations with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) through the CAA ICON sports consulting firm.

At that time, Coun. Sonya Sharp, who is chair of the Event Centre committee, said this would be a fresh start. Apparently, that also includes a potential location for the new arena.

Sharp was asked if they’re giving consideration to an Event Centre location outside the Rivers District. The Rivers District is the area immediately around the Calgary Stampede grounds and is guided by the Rivers District Master Plan.  The Culture and Entertainment District is one of the signature aspects of the Rivers District plan and the intent was for the arena to anchor the area.

“If we go back to the conversation we had in I think it was early fall, we talked about this being a fresh start,” said Sharp.  

“So, this is a fresh start. And we are looking… I mentioned we’re looking for building an event center within the city, within downtown and all possible options will be presented.”

When asked if the West Village area was a viable option, Sharp said she couldn’t confirm that. The 2009 West Village Redevelopment plan is still on the books with the City of Calgary.

There’s speculation the West Village site, the home of the CalgaryNext arena project back in the 2010s, is still high on the list of CSEC’s preferred sites.  That $1.8 billion redevelopment project, with a proposed $890 million arena and a multisport fieldhouse, was cancelled in 2017.

That area does still require remediation. It was once the former Canada Cresote site. During recent conversations with the provincial government’s Calgary caucus, the remediation of that site was raised, LiveWire Calgary has learned.

Time is of the essence: Sharp

This first meeting of the new year was a chance for administration to provide an update, plus the deal structure advisors from CAA-ICON.

CAA-ICON has had an initial meeting with the province, Sharp said. 

Sharp said she couldn’t comment publicly on negotiations between CAA-ICON and CSEC. She’s not at the negotiating table, nor would there be any other member of council in negotiations.  The timeline for a potential deal, however, is unclear.

“I’m very satisfied with where we’re going and things are moving along quite well,” Sharp said.

“We do know that time is of the essence, also we’re working with cost escalations. So, you know, projects, the sooner they happen, the better, when it comes to time and money.”

Sharp said keeping these matters confidential was a part of maintaining a healthy relationship with their partners. She said you see it through many projects – Green Line, Arts Commons and others.

“I will say that we’ll update as the project progresses,” she said.

It’s expected that the committee will resume its monthly meeting schedule.