Calgary businessman and entrepreneur Brett Wilson is slamming Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city councillors for not working faster to build a new arena.
Wilson is a minority owner of the Nashville Predators and joined Global News on Tuesday to discuss the team’s playoff run and the so-called “Smashville” spirit.
“The big fun thing was who’s going to perform inside – but also, who’s going to perform outside,” he said. “This sort of stuff brings communities together – and that’s really why I share some of this, with the envy that Calgary could be that, if we weren’t dawdling.”
“To have dragged as it has, shows a lack of vision and leadership,” he said. “The arena in Nashville was built by the mayor, hoping to attract an NHL hockey team. We have a mayor and council in this case, dragging this whole conversation for years – at the risk of losing.”
Mayor Naheed Nenshi disagreed with Wilson’s comments and said the city isn’t delaying anything.
President and CEO of Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation Butch Spyridon helped bring the arena and NHL franchise to Nashville. Spyridon said cities have to invest in themselves.
“That was one of those things we kept saying. You’re either growing or dying,” Spyridon said. “There’s no better time than during a recession, because you’re investing in yourself and helping navigate out of a recession…….Not only are you going to put citizens to work, but you’re going to have great savings on the cost.”
After his experience in Nashville during the Predators playoff ride, Spyridon said you can’t put a price on an outlet that brings an entire city together.
“Seeing young, old, male, female, black, white, rich, poor — all sitting together outside the building — cheering, having fun, high fiving, bonding as a community,” Spyridon said.
A survey from Mainstreet Research released in May suggested 50 per cent of Calgarians believe the city needs a new arena. It also found 60 per cent of respondents would support the City of Calgary if it decided to support construction of a new arena by providing land or using savings that would not impact their taxes.