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Contingencies Sought in Calgary Flames Arena Talks

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If Calgary Flames arena discussions resume, the team wants certain contingencies from the city, including “media silence” to keep negotiations from playing out in public. 

Discussions about a potential replacement for the Scotiabank Saddledome took place until last fall, when negotiations between the Flames and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi ceased. There were considerable disagreements between the two sides over the economics of a new arena. The city’s funding framework accounted for a total project cost of $555 million, with the city contributing $185 million, the team paying $185 million, and the remaining $185 million generated by a ticket tax. When broken down, the city’s contribution included $130 million toward the construction of the arena, plus $30 million in land, and $25 million to demolish the Saddledome.

The Flames, according to the proposal they released, offered $275 million toward the construction of a $500-million arena. The remaining $225 million was to be covered by a community revitalization levy.

In an effort to restart discussions, the Calgary City Council voted last month to form an event centre assessment committee to negotiate a potential deal. While that decision has the potential to reignite arena talks, a response to the city from Flames president and CEO Ken King earlier this month outlined some of the organization’s concerns. According to King, Flames owner Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC) wants a better sense of how the city’s position on a new arena has evolved in recent months and an understanding that “Public and/or media involvement must only be rendered in the event of an agreement.” More from StarMetro Calgary:

Four days later, King responded that CSEC was open to preliminary talks to “determine what may have changed in the city’s view to warrant our re-engaging,” but had “concerns based on past practices.”

“Moreover, if we are to proceed, a simple and pre-emptive imperative is media silence,” King wrote. “Public and/or media involvement must only be rendered in the event of an agreement.”…

Earlier Tuesday, the committee agreed to rewrite the city’s set of principles to guide it through negotiations with CSEC, which owns the Flames, the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, the Western Hockey League’s Hitmen, and the Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League.

“At this point, what we’ve decided as a committee is to just take a step back … (and) let’s look at really what we want to accomplish in terms of a vision and how do we come up with a delivery mechanism to get there,” [Councillor Jeff] Davison said.

Until their collapse, the most recent discussions surrounded the possibility of building an arena in Victoria Park at a site near the Saddledome. While the next steps from here remain to be seen, committee members are so far indicating that they are willing to discuss alternate sites. 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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