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Calgary, CSEC reach agreement on new Flames arena

Scotiabank Saddledome

After several false starts, the city of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) finally reached agreement on a new Flames arena billed as a modern event center, replacing the Saddledome as the NHL team’s home.

The plan for a new arena is still very preliminary–hence no renderings, no design efforts and no schedules–but we do have some details to pass along. According to the Flames, the event center will anchor a new Culture + Entertainment District in downtown Calgary. This $1.22 billion area will feature a suite of public amenities and public infrastructure, including a new community rink also serving as a Flames practice site, improvements to public spaces and connections to The District, and commercial opportunities, all of which will be anchored by a new publicly owned Event Centre.

The facility will also house the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League. It replaces Scotiabank Saddledome (shown above), opening in 1983 as the team’s home.

The rough budget: New Arena, $800 million; Attached Parking, $35.4 million; Enclosed Plaza, $9.5 million; On-Site Public Realm, $28.7 million; Community Rink, $52.8 million; Transportation improvements, infastructure, and other district benefits, $238.4 million; Other Costs, $58.5 million. Funding comes from the city of Calgary ($537.3 million to fund the development of the Event Centre, parking structure, the enclosed plaza, and 25 percent of the community rink), CSEC ($40 million upfront and $17 million per year, increasing 1 percent per year) over 35 years to offset Event Centre costs, parking, the enclosed plaza, 25 percent of the community rink and $1.5 million per year to community sports), and the province ($300 million to fund transportation improvements, land, infrastructure and site enabling costs, including off-site and on-site utility servicing costs, public realm and site clearing/demolition; $30 million to fund 50 percent of the community rink).

“This project is another signal to the market that Calgary is making strong investments in its future,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek in a press release. “The partnership approach we have taken accomplishes two things: we are building an event centre, and we are also creating the public amenities needed within the Rivers District to build community and enhance quality of life for all Calgarians.”

The public contribution to the new Calgary arena is roughly the same as with the prior arena plan rejected by the Flames. The budget for the new event center is roughly double than that prior effort, with CSEC upping its financial contribution–a situation local politicos argue shows financial restraint, as no tax increases are expected to be part of the funding plan.

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