We end 2019 with a countdown of the five biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #3: A new Calgary Flames agreement moves forward.
After years of lobbying for a new arena, the Calgary Flames came to a consensus with Calgary officials on a project that includes a new home and elements that could lead to a redevelopment of the surrounding area.
The Flames are currently on track to open a new C$550-million arena in Victoria Park in 2024. Under an agreement between the city and Flames ownership Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., both sides will contribute C$275 million toward the new arena’s construction. The venue will fall under city ownership, while the city will receive 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 and receive an option to buy two nearby city-owned land parcels for potential redevelopment.
The Calgary City Council ratified the deal in July, with news surfacing in December that the parties had signed agreements on the project. The funding plan calls for the city’s contribution to come in at a little more than C$290 million, which includes costs toward the demolition of the Flames’ current home, the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The new arena plans ultimately end a long-standing impasse between the Flames and Calgary officials, who in the past were never quite on the same page when it came to replacing the Saddledome. The ambitious CalgaryNEXT concept, originally proposed by the Flames in 2015, failed to gain traction and previous discussions involving a new Victoria Park arena broke down in the fall of 2017 because of disagreements over the economics of the plan.
The new Calgary Flames arena agreement effectively addresses what is currently one of the most glaring facility challenges in the NHL. The Saddledome opened in 1983, making it the second-oldest facility among full-time NHL arenas, and has not undergone a significant renovation since the 1990s. The new arena is expected to render the Saddledome obsolete, making its future demolition likely.