Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Friday the arena proposal the Calgary Flames unveiled on Thursday is not the same deal they had been negotiating with the city.
“The Flames owners are claiming that they’re putting up $275 million upfront. That makes it sound like the cheque is being put on the table,” Nenshi said. “Certainly, that has not been discussed. That would have really changed things had that been discussed.”
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The Flames’ proposal pegged the total cost of the facility in Victoria Park at $500 million and had the organization contributing $275 million, while another $225 million came from a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL).
Calgary Flames CEO and president Ken King avoided speaking about the specific details contained in the proposal, saying the organization wishes to “move on” and “try to win some championships,” adding there was “no further value” in the debate.
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But, Nenshi said the proposal the Flames put to city council would have had the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) pay $100 million, with the remainder of the $250 million being paid through a ticket tax.
“What we really need to do is be very clear with Calgarians about what’s on the table so they can determine for themselves,” the mayor said.
Nenshi said Friday the cash from the CRL is based on the city collecting money from property taxes on new developments that haven’t yet been built.
“The Flames don’t want to pay any property tax, they want their neighbours, who don’t yet exist, to pay all that property tax,” he said.
He added that in order for the Flames’ proposal to work, the city would have to extend the current CRL for the East Village, which, he said, means “the city is giving up that property tax money for many, many years going forward.”
The City of Calgary released details on their funding proposal last Friday.
The mayor said the city is still willing to negotiate as long as a deal can be made that “is a win for the taxpayers and a win for the Flames owners.”
“These negotiations are hard,” he said. “Guess what? They’re supposed to be hard. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars and I believe you don’t have a temper tantrum, you don’t run away. You sit down and you figure out the right way to do it.”
–With files from John Himpe