We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #6: City leaders take steps toward reviving new Calgary Flames arena discussions.
By the end of 2017, it appeared that disagreements over the economics of a new arena had all but ended discussions of a replacement for the Scotiabank Saddledome. City leaders now appear willing to revive those discussions, and took action in 2018 that could lay the groundwork for a new arena plan.
When negotiations ceased in the fall of 2017, the Flames and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi were clearly at odds over how to fund a new arena that would be located near the Saddledome in Victoria Park. Calgary and the Flames made their separate proposals publicly available, with the city’s accounting for a $555 million project that included a $185 city contribution—$130 million toward the construction of the arena, plus $30 million in land, and $25 million to demolish the Saddledome—and the rest covered by the team and a ticket tax. In addition, the Flames would own and pay property taxes on the arena while receiving 100% of revenues. The Flames, meanwhile, pitched a $275 million team contribution toward the cost of a $500 million arena, with the remaining cost by a community revitalization levy (CRL).
This year, the city sought to reengage the Flames in discussions, and voted in May to create an event centre assessment committee. The concept that is being floated right now calls for a new arena in Victoria Park, with the facility surrounded by new development that includes entertainment options.
It was revealed at a committee meeting last week that the arena is estimated to cost in the range of $550-$600 million, with the facility to be designed for hockey and a variety of other events. The city and the team ownership group Calgary Sports and Entertainment have not launched formal negotiations, meaning that much remains to be determined about the viability of the plan.
If a new Calgary arena is to be built, the city and the Flames will need to launch formal negotiations and determine if it is financially feasible option. While it remains to be seen if a plan comes together, Calgary Sports and Entertainment has not made much noise about selling or relocating the Flames. That, combined with renew interest from the city, could help foster negotiations in the new year, and perhaps produce some resolution to the situation.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: