Majority of Calgarians surveyed disapprove of CalgaryNEXT arena funding proposal: poll

Majority of Calgarians surveyed disapprove of CalgaryNEXT arena funding proposal: poll
WATCH ABOVE: A new poll is showing financing for the CalgaryNEXT project is still a major bone of contention with Calgary taxpayers. Global’s Doug Vaessen reports.

The majority of a group of 823 Calgarians surveyed do not approve of the CalgaryNEXT financing proposal put forth by the Flames’ ownership group, according to a Mainstreet/Postmedia poll released Tuesday.

The CalgaryNEXT project, a new arena and sports complex proposal for Calgary, was unveiled in August 2015.

The original $890-million plan for CalgaryNEXT called for the project to be funded through a $250-million ticket tax, a $240-million community levy, $200 million from team ownership and $200 million from city taxpayers for the fieldhouse.

The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Group said in June it would examine a “Plan B” option, which would still cost $890 million.

READ MORE: Calgary Flames ownership group willing to consider other options to CalgaryNEXT sports complex proposal

“The majority still do not approve of the CalgaryNext financing proposal,” Mainstreet Research president Quito Maggi said in a statement, referring to research gathered when the proposal was first unveiled. “In fact, opposition to the financing proposal has increased.”

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The poll found 51 per cent of respondents don’t support the proposed funding model—which includes people who are “unsure” of their support of the project.

“Among decided Calgarians [i.e. after removing people who are ‘unsure’], that amounts to 70 per cent opposed to the current financing model,” Maggi said. “Among only those who are opposed or unsure to the current proposal, two thirds want the Calgary Flames ownership alone to finance the project with just 23 per cent considering some government financing component.”

Maggi added it’s unknown how or when those who are “unsure” will decide to support or oppose the idea, so researchers often only look at the “decided” opinion.

READ MORE: Who will pay for Calgary’s new arena?

The poll suggested opinions are “deadlocked” when it comes to direct support for the project: 40 per cent of those surveyed support CalgaryNext, including 19 per cent who strongly support it (unchanged since 2015). That’s compared to 40 per cent opposed to the sports complex, which is up six per cent since 2015.

“This project and the specific proposals appears to have polarized opinions, as those who strongly oppose the project has increased from 14 per cent to 25 per cent (+11 per cent),” according to the research.

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The poll also found people who were following the development of Edmonton’s new Rogers Place arena and Regina’s new Mosaic Stadium were much more likely to support CalgaryNEXT when compared to those not following or unaware of the other two cities’ arenas.

Mainstreest is a national public research firm. Mainstreet surveyed a random sample of 823 Calgary residents by Smart IVR™ on Sept. 7, 2016. A mixture of landlines and cellphones were surveyed. Margin of error: +/- 3.41%, 19 times out of 20. Results were weighed by age and gender based on the 2011 Canadian Census.