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New Calgary Flames Arena Talks Back on Table

Calgary Flames logoTalks concerning a new Calgary Flames arena are back on the table, as the Calgary City Council voted today to form an event centre assessment committee to negotiate a potential deal.

Talks between Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC), owner of the NHL franchise, collapsed last fall after the two sides different on the economics of an arena deal. The Flames offered to pay $275 million toward the cost of a $500-million municipally financed arena, while the city was asking the Flames to pay $185 million toward a privately financed arena, $555 million, with the city contributing $185 million and the remaining $185 million generated by a ticket tax. The Flames rejected the proposal to privately finance an area as being unacceptable and walked away from negotiations.

The move today seeks to reopen talks with fresh faces on the city side, led by the city council and not Nenshi, who expressed guarded optimism about the new discussions but still managed to hire a potshot at the Flames, per the Calgary Sun:

Mayor Naheed Nenshi told councillors ahead of the vote that he supported restarting talks, but said he was concerned that “CSEC has been saying publicly that the city won’t return their calls.”

“There have been no calls. There hasn’t been a single call to my office since September and I think it’s extremely clear that they’re working with a narrative which is not a great way to start this conversation,” Nenshi said.

“I’m hopeful that the restart on our side will also be a restart on their side and that we can actually have a reasonable conversation without threats and acrimony, but actually sit down and look at what is possible.”

Until reaching a standstill, the most recent arena discussions had revolved around constructing a new venue in Victoria Park at a site near the Saddledome. Originally opening in 1983, the Saddledome is currently the second-oldest arena in the NHL, with only Madison Square Garden–which has received significant renovations over the years–pre-dating it among active venues.

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