It’s back to the bargaining table for the city as it looks to get a deal done with the Calgary Flames on a new arena – with or without the 2026 Olympics.
Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison, who chairs the events centre assessment committee, said the city is setting parameters for talks to begin and he is looking at quickly negotiating a new deal after talks broke down just over a year ago.
“We are really trying to get the money we would need from the city side of that into the next budget cycle,” he said. “So we are really going to try to push over the next few months to get a deal together, put a proposal in front of council and hopefully move on with what we have been trying to do for years.”
Davison said the city, through the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, is costing out the arena now and it will likely come in at $500 million to $525 million. But a lot has changed since an often bitter negotiation was called off last fall.
“The big conversation piece now is we are not just after the event centre we are really trying to build the entertainment and cultural district Calgary has really demanded for the last few decades,” he said.
“It is critically important when we start thinking about the downtown tax problem we have right now, an $89-million problem, that we start looking at ways to provide a full solution to that problem. And what we have in the Event Centre district is $100 million worth of tax revenue we could generate.”
Calgarians will vote next Tuesday in the 2026 Winter Olympic plebiscite, but Davison said he wants to move forward regardless of the outcome. He added there could be some synergy and cost savings if a deal can be done.
“You don’t want to have competing priorities for dollars that the city has to spend. Interesting enough with that Olympic bid you wouldn’t need all of those renovation dollars. There are probably $150 million would come out of the budget just because there would be a way to cost share a little bit in terms of building a new facility rather than retrofitting a bunch of older facilities,” he said.
“It’s a bit of the cup shuffling game in terms of where does that funding come from. But the reality is you are not going to spend $35 million or so on a Saddledome renovation if you are going to tear the Saddledome down.”
The arena would sit on land near the old arena in Stampede Park. Davison said a new event centre and entertainment district would bring in up to $3 billion worth of private sector investment.