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Calgary Mayor: We’re Not Revisiting Flames Arena Deal

Although some are calling for the plans to be revisited amidst debate over the city’s budget, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi believes the new Flames arena deal should be left alone.

In July, Calgary officials voted to approve plans for a new C$550 million arena in Victoria Park that will replace the Scotiabank Saddledome as the Flames’ home and is expected to serve as the anchor of a larger redevelopment initiative in the surrounding area. As part of the financing package, the city agreed to contribute C$275 million toward the project.

Currently, the Calgary City Council is locked into a debate over adjustments to its 2020 budget that is expected to result in cuts. Some elected leaders voiced the opinion during a council meeting Monday that the arena deal should be put on the table as part of those discussions, noting that the agreement between the city and the Flames ownership has yet to be signed. Nenshi, however, refuted that argument. He believes that reopening the deal would ultimately amount to a distraction, and that there have been no changes in the economy since the agreement’s approval in July to prompt a reconsideration of its terms. More from Star Calgary:

In July, council approved putting $275 million in public funds toward construction costs for a new home for the Calgary Flames. A majority of councillors voted in favour of the deal just eight days after the public saw it for the first time.

But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he thinks talk of reconsidering the deal is “distracting.”

“On the arena, we had a very comprehensive public debate, and ultimately, council decided to move forward,” he said. “That is a decision council has made, and frankly nothing has changed in the economy between July and now that would make me say, ‘We’ve got to rethink our capital projects.’”

Coun. Jeromy Farkas argued that as there’s still no signed agreement between the city and the Calgary Flames owners, he’d like to see the arena deal revisited.

Under the terms of the deal, the city will own the arena, while receiving proceeds from a ticket tax and a share of naming-rights revenue. In addition, the Flames will assume operations and maintenance costs over the course of a 35-year lease with the city and receive an option to buy two nearby city-owned land parcels. Construction has been expected to begin in 2021, with the arena completed in time for the 2024-25 NHL season. The Flames had sought for years to replace the Saddledome, which originally opened in 1983 and is currently the second-oldest venue among full-time NHL arenas.

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