While it is not included in a 2026 Winter Olympics proposal, Calgary officials are not shutting the door on discussions for a new Calgary Flames arena.
The Flames had been working to replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, but that process stalled last fall, when negotiations between the team and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi ceased. There were considerable disagreements between the two sides over the economics of a new arena, prompting the discussions to come to a halt.
In a separate effort, a bid is underway to bring the 2026 Winter Olympics to Calgary. City officials voted Tuesday to send the Olympics proposal to a November 13 voter plebiscite (Calgary’s equivalent of a referendum), with the current plan calling for a $3-billion public contribution–municipal, provincial, and federal dollars included–to an overall budget of $5.2 billion. The facilities plan for the Olympics does not include a new NHL-caliber arena, but instead proposes a new mid-size indoor venue along with funding for Saddledome capital improvements.
However, that does not necessarily negate the possibility of a new Flames arena. In May, the Calgary City Council voted to form an event centre assessment committee to negotiate a potential deal. No proposal has surfaced in the period since, but some city officials questioned if a new arena could eventually be worked into the Olympics plan. An official behind the bid noted that the proposal could always be adjusted as needed, especially if the city identities an opportunity. More from StarMetro Calgary:
Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating, who also sits on the assessment committee, also asked the BidCo at Tuesday’s council meeting whether combining the ideas could be possible.
BidCo CEO Mary Moran said at the time that the International Olympic Committee deemed the Saddledome adequate for Olympic events, but she can’t comment on whether the arena meets the Flames’ needs.
But while Moran said BidCo’s approach focuses on “refreshing” legacy infrastructure, she didn’t dismiss the idea that an NHL-calibre arena could be a part of future Olympic plans.
“Often, when cities are preparing a bid, they will identify opportunities. Once they are successful, those opportunities change,” she said. “The door is never shut. This is a work in progress.”
Though the Saddledome would get some improvements under the current Olympics proposal, those upgrades would address areas such as accessibility, the ice plant, and structural maintenance. Those improvements may be enough for the venue to host events during the Olympics, but they are unlikely to put the arena on more competitive footing with modern NHL facilities. 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–predating it among active venues.
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