An effort in the Calgary City Council to reallocate funds committed to a new Calgary Flames arena was defeated last week, assuring that the money is not diverted elsewhere.
Over the summer, the Calgary City Council approved plans for a new C$550 arena in Victoria Park that will be funded as part of a partnership with Flames ownership. Last week, those plans became the subject of a debate as the city council weighed potential adjustments to its 2020 budget. Councillor Evan Woolley pushed a motion that would have taken the C$290 million that is committed toward the arena project and reallocated it to cover three other initiatives, including an LRT project, new downtown police station, and upgrades to affordable housing stock.
“While I respect the attempt to make a bad situation less bad . . . I cannot accept the premise on which it’s built,” said Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who voted against the motion.
Coun. Jyoti Gondek told her colleagues it’s wrong to equate funds allocated to the arena deal with ongoing budget debates taking place this week at city council.
“What we’re doing is public drama,” she said, referring to Friday’s debate.
Woolley responded that he failed to understand the reluctance to reopen the arena deal debate “when everything else is supposed to be on the table.”
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 Scotiabank Saddledome, which originally opened in 1983 and is currently the second-oldest venue among full-time NHL arenas.
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