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Development Key to Calgary Flames Arena Plan

A proposed plan for a new Calgary Flames arena could help facilitate redevelopment in the surrounding area, with team ownership having the option to acquire two nearby properties.

As was revealed last week, the City of Calgary and Flames ownership Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CESC) have reached a tentative deal for a new C$550 million arena. The two sides would each pay C$275 million toward that cost. The arena would fall under city ownership, while the city would receive proceeds from a ticket tax and a share of naming-rights revenue. In addition, the Flames would assume operations and maintenance costs over the course of a 35-year lease with the city and also receive an option to buy two city-owned land parcels.

The two properties include the former site of the historic Enoch Sales Residence–which was destroyed by a fire earlier this year–and the existing site of Victoria Park bus barns. Flames ownership would have until it occupies the new arena–expected to be about 2024–to acquire the Enoch Sales Residence site for its spring 2018 value, while some different terms would be in place for the bus barns site.

Having the options in place is seen as a key part of the broader vision for the new arena project, which could see Flames ownership take on a role in redeveloping the surrounding area. More from the Star Calgary:

Meanwhile, CSEC will have the option to acquire the bus barns lands within a decade of occupying the arena, if they “become available” for development. The city has long planned to demolish these barns and reclaim the land to build something else.

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) President and CEO Michael Brown, whose organization is overseeing the arena’s construction, estimated the market value of these acquisitions at $85 million for the bus barns’ land and $15 million for the Enoch House’s land.

Brown said he could logically see the CSEC wanting to use the land to develop retail properties, a residential tower or a hotel. These properties were included in the deal, he said, because the CSEC expressed a desire to participate in developing the community around the arena.

“We saw that as a positive. We didn’t feel as though we were giving anything away, they were paying market value for it, and in addition to that, we knew ultimately we were going to have to negotiate design as well as timing of the build-out,” Brown said, adding that the CMLC will work with the CSEC to develop the land to a point where both parties are happy with what’s being designed and constructed.

The proposed agreement is not final, as it still needs Calgary City Council approval. The council has been expected to consider the issue today. Should it come to fruition, the new arena would replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, which opened in 1983, and is currently the second-oldest facility among full-time NHL arenas.

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