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‘Not multi-useless’: Committee approves baseline Calgary fieldhouse mix

The estimated capital cost of the building is expected to be a part of the June report back to committee.

Preliminary amenities at Calgary’s proposed multisport fieldhouse were approved at committee Monday, paving the way for a final report to come in June.

The baseline mix of amenities, which demonstrated the flexibility of the planned modular structure, was divided into track and field, gymnasia and artificial turf areas.

While there is no proposed cost, it’s expected after further refinement a high-level cost will be provided in June. Previous estimates had a fieldhouse plan in the neighbourhood of $300 million. The design has since changed. The City of Calgary’s Florent Le Berre did say they expect $20 million to $50 million in annual economic impact from the facility.

“It is important to note that all track and field events will be net new to Calgary as we currently do not have the infrastructure to host such events,” said Le Berre.

“Tourism Calgary has had success in the past in attracting competition and events in Calgary recently with vulnerable but bidding for those events is made difficult by the lack of adequate infrastructure and the organization of those events is expensive due to the need for temporary infrastructure, putting Calgary at a disadvantage.”

The next step for the city is to work with potential user groups, sports organizations, governing bodies and community associations over the next two months to get a better handle on the sports mix, plus the required support facilities like change rooms, storage rooms, childcare, physiotherapy and food.

“This engagement will also give us the opportunity to further refine our understanding of the future usage of the facility,” Le Berre said.

“This will help us develop an operating plan with estimates of operating costs and revenues, a Class 5 cost estimate for the project and the social return on investment.”

Connection to Commonwealth bid

Ward 5 Coun. Raj Dhaliwal asked if there was a way to disconnect from the association with the proposed 2030 Commonwealth Games bid.

“How do we disconnect ourselves from there rather than having this thing lost in that discussion?” Dhaliwal asked.

Heather Johnson, the city’s director of recreation and social programs said they are working with the Commonwealth Games committee. The fieldhouse would be a “fantastic amenity to support that,” she said.

It is being proposed as a part of the Commonwealth Games.

“I would say regardless of the success of that bid, this is an amenity that Calgarians require for everyday practice and play and ongoing competition,” Johnson said.  

“So, it’s both an excellent part of a potential bid and a necessary facility to stand on its own.”

Community Services GM Katie Black said she was impressed by the flexibility in the facility. She did ask, however, if there was a tipping point at which trying to be all things to all people stopped being practical.

Le Berre said their consultant had a joke about that.

“You want to make it multi-use but not multi-useless,” he said.

Le Berre added that they understand that some sports will be the primary users of the facility. Still, they want the ability to accommodate several other sports with the facility.

The report will hit the consent agenda at a future regular meeting of council for final approval. An updated, usage, sport mix, cost and operational report will come back in June.