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Plan unveiled for new Calgary Flames arena

Terms have been agreed on a deal that could potentially lead to the development of a new C$550m (€374.5m/$418.6m) arena for the Calgary Flames, replacing the NHL ice hockey team’s ageing Saddledome home.

The Flames have played at the Saddledome since it opened in 1983, but have long been seeking a new arena, with two previous proposals having collapsed in the past four years. However, the City of Calgary, the Flames’ parent company Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) and rodeo, exhibition and festival organiser Calgary Exhibition and Stampede (Stampede) yesterday (Monday) confirmed they have agreed to fundamental terms and conditions for the development and construction of a new public sports and entertainment event centre.

The agreement lays out the terms of a partnership that will see the creation of facilities to serve as public gathering places for significant events, attract world-leading performing artists and serve as a new home to the Flames, Western Hockey League team the Hitmen and National Lacrosse League franchise the Roughnecks.

The estimated cost of the event centre including the 19,000-seat arena is C$550m, which will be shared 50/50 between the City and CSEC. With its 50-per-cent investment, the City will own 100 per cent of the event centre. CSEC will bear 100 per cent of the operating, maintenance and repair costs for the period of the 35-year agreement, committing the Flames to Calgary during this time.

The City will also receive a facility fee for the lifetime of the agreement and a portion of the event centre naming rights. In addition, value will be created for the City as a result of increased property tax revenue. CSEC has committed to provide local amateur sports organisations with C$75m in added funding over 35 years.

Calgary’s Mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said: “City Council and I had a set of principles that had to be part of any deal, including that any public money must result in public benefit. I’m very pleased that this deal achieves that. It’s a good deal for Calgary. This deal makes sense on its own merits and we believe it will help accelerate the redevelopment of East Victoria Park.”

The agreement has been shaped by 14 months of review, analysis and consultation by the City’s Event Centre Assessment Committee, chaired by Councillor Jeff Davison. The Committee has determined the agreement meets the test of fitting the long-term goals of the City and City Council.

It is the culmination of years of discussion and negotiation between the City, CSEC and other partners. The project also aligns with the City’s Rivers District Master Plan and addresses the need to replace the Saddledome, which is now the oldest arena in the NHL.

Davison said: “After a prolonged period of stiff economic headwinds, Calgary is pivoting back towards growth. The 50/50 project funding arrangement and the ongoing revenue streams to the City and to Calgarians demonstrate the City’s commitment to risk sharing and fiscal responsibility.

“This project is an example of working with private partners to make long-term investments in needed public facilities.”

The agreement is subject to a seven-day public comment period and a vote of City Council on July 29, along with customary approvals by CSEC and the Stampede.