When it comes to CalgaryNEXT, both the Calgary Flames and Calgary officials say they are trying to build a productive dialogue about the project.
First publicly pitched by the Flames in 2015, CalgaryNEXT is an ambitious sports complex proposal that would result in new homes for the Flames and the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampede. Since it was first proposed, however, CalgaryNEXT has been met with a mixed reaction, with some citing its potential as an economic boost and others criticizing the project’s cost. (Some estimates have ranged from $890 million to $1.8 billion.)
The divide has been a contributing factor to the project’s uncertainty, but both the Flames and city officials insist that recent conversations between surrounding CalgaryNEXT have been positive. More from the Calgary Herald:
“We are encouraged about the notion we will get a building and we will be able to partner with the city,” said CSEC CEO Ken King, indicating the acrimonious start to the process has given way to a more productive tone.
“We have different views about where it should be and what should be involved in it in terms of a stadium and a field house and an event centre, or just an event centre. But I think it seems clear the city of Calgary and the political leaders — all of them — feel that we need to have one. I don’t think they woke up one day and said ‘look at Edmonton, us too!’
“They’ve been understanding and listening. They understand if we’re not sustainable we’re not here. It’s not about taxpayers money for hockey players. I think they now understand this is critical infrastructure for this city with us or without us. With the Olympics or without the Olympics. These facilities are as important for a city’s infrastructure as anything. I don’t think they’ve ever felt otherwise. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to structure a deal, and I feel pretty confident that we will be able to come up with something that will work for everybody.”
Talks surrounding CalgaryNEXT are occurring alongside some interesting developments in NHL, particularly among the league’s Canada-based franchises. The Edmonton Oilers ‘ opening of Rogers Place has been closely watched by many, and it already seems to be serving as something of a model for the Ottawa Senators’ proposed downtown arena. Some in Calgary have cited Edmonton as a worthy role model, but the talks between the city and the Flames are going to be crucial to deciding CalgaryNEXT’s fate.