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Officials Push to Prioritize New Calgary Flames Arena

New Calgary Arena rendering

Arguing that it would stimulate investment in the area, officials are lobbying for the Calgary City Council to prioritize a new Calgary Flames arena

At an upcoming meeting on Monday, the Calgary City Council is expected to decide which major capital projects it will prioritize as part of its long-term planning process for the city. This comes as officials look to get discussions for a new Flames’ arena on track, and potentially provide a path toward replacing the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.

Ahead of Monday’s meeting, a few officials are lobbying to prioritize a new arena in Victoria Park, including city councillor Jeff Davison. Davison–the chair of the city’s event centre assessment committee–believes that a new facility built as part of a public-private partnership could yield investment in the surrounding area, while providing other benefits. The city would still have to work through some key steps to make the venue a reality, including negations with the Flames and pinning down a plan for a likely public contribution. More from the Calgary Herald:

“On top of the investment and the jobs and the revenue it would create, the event centre is the anchor point in developing a cultural gathering place for all Calgarians. We’ve confirmed that it’s critical that the event centre be so much more than a single use hockey arena, that the public spaces adjacent to the event centre are just as critical as the event centre itself.”

Ernst & Young, commissioned to conduct an economic impact study of the development of the Rivers District, will release its findings at Friday’s event centre committee meeting.

That study could then be referred to council’s strategic meeting Monday, when members will decide what major capital projects to fund over the next few years.

If council chooses to focus on the arena project, Davison said a proposal would then be submitted to Calgary Sports and Entertainment for consideration. He said council would need to go to city administration to find a source of funding for the project.

Previous discussions about a new arena broke down in the fall of 2017, hitting a stalemate because the Flames and city could not resolve considerable differences over the economics of the proposal. However, Calgary officials have been making overtures since last year about reengaging the Flames in discussions, with the current concept centering around a new arena–recently estimated to cost upwards of $600 million–anchoring surrounding development in Victoria Park. As noted, the new arena would replace the Saddledome, which opened in 1983 and is currently the second-oldest facility among full-time NHL arenas.

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