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Calgary Mayor: CalgaryNext is “Dead”

Proposed CalgaryNEXT arena project

CalgaryNext, a proposal that includes a new arena for the Calgary Flames, is “dead,” according to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Originally proposed in 2015, CalgaryNext has been the subject of debate for several years. The plan calls for a new arena for the Flames as part of a complex that would also include a new venue for Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders. There were signs in recent months that the Flames and the city would consider alternatives, as Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp CEO Ken King said in December that CalgaryNext was “on pause.”

Calgary has been exploring a possible plan B, one that could lead to a new Flames arena at Victoria Park. When providing an update on Monday, Nenshi labeled CalgaryNext as dead, something that surprised King. More from the Calgary Sun:

“The thing about a new arena project, and I’ll use those terms because CalgaryNEXT, the West Village project, is dead,” Nenshi said when asked if the federal government’s planned Canada Infrastructure Bank could be used to pay for CalgaryNEXT.

“But, the thing about a new arena project is that our first criteria has always been public money for public benefit, so it really is up to the Calgary Sports and Entertainment (Corp.) to figure out what the public benefit is,” the mayor continued.

Asked about Nenshi’s remarks, King expressed surprise.

“Notwithstanding that I was not present or did not understand the context of the mayor’s comments, I am surprised. Our understanding is that, as directed by council, CalgaryNEXT is ultimately to be compared with a Victoria Park option,” King said Monday afternoon.

Nenshi followed up by making the case that the Victoria Park site may qualify for more infrastructure investment funds than CalgaryNext’s location in the West Village. More from the Sun:

After stating the West Village project was dead, Nenshi went on to tell reporters the substitute arena plan in Victoria Park may qualify for funds under the planned Canada Infrastructure Bank, set to use federal dollars and private-sector funding to finance projects that might not otherwise be built.

“Those transit and road improvements have to stand on their own, they have to be improvements that we would make regardless and that’s one of the reasons why, by the way, that a potential site in Victoria Park makes way more sense than CalgaryNEXT because those infrastructure investments including the Green Line are happening anyway,” Nenshi said Monday morning.

The Flames have been searching for a new arena to replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, which originally opened in 1983.

RELATED STORIES: Conversations on CalgaryNext ContinueFederal Money Could be Used for CalgaryNEXTPoll Shows Tepid Reaction to CalgaryNEXT; Councillor Makes Case for CalgaryNEXT; Flames pitch ambitious CalgaryNEXT arena project 

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