New events centre in Calgary would be ‘bigger than a hockey story’: city councillor

Click to play video: 'City committee to discuss new Calgary arena Friday'
City committee to discuss new Calgary arena Friday
Global News Morning Calgary's Doug Vaessen has the details on discussions for a new arena and event centre in Victoria Park – Dec 14, 2018

A deal for a new arena in Calgary would be more than just a hockey deal, it would be an entertainment district that could play host to a number events including concerts, sports and other events.

The budget for the arena, which would be built in the downtown Victoria Park area, is approximately $550-600 million.

The cost estimate was reached through consultations with big industry players, which look at the cost of constructing a building as well as cost information from the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation, according to the president of the Calgary Municipal Land Commission, Michael Brown.

“I’m very confident that we can deliver a really good building for the citizens of Calgary as well as Calgary Sport and Entertainment for that number,” he said.

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The current proposal and cost estimate includes everything from ice plans to structural, mechanical and electrical plans as well as public spaces, Brown said, adding its capacity would be about 20,000 people. The cost of land is not included.

According to the city manager, the City of Calgary has $300 million in its mega projects budget.

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Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison, chair of the special committee that is looking at the project, wouldn’t say Friday evening whether that money would go toward a new event centre, but he also didn’t rule it out.

Davison said while there are no specifics on who would finance an arena and events centre, it’s vital the city show investors and Calgary Flames ownership it’s serious about developing an arts and cultural district in Victoria Park.

He said there have been high-level talks with the Flames, but it’s too early for negotiations.

“Their expectation is that we bring a vision forward for the entertainment and cultural district and that’s what we’re doing and that’s what this committee has set out to do before we get into any kind of talks about what a negotiation could look like,” Davison said.

“At the end of the day, there’s many partners involved in this. It’s bigger than a hockey story, and I don’t think anyone, including the Flames, is interested in kicking a facility up the road five metres just to build a new facility. It’s really got to be about how we develop that district and what do we bring to it.”

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Davison said they’re also looking at how investment in the BMO Centre could play into the bigger vision for the district.

City council will vote Monday on a proposal to pay for the nearly $500 million renovations of the BMO convention centre.

LISTEN: Coun. Ward Sutherland joins Calgary Today to discuss the proposed event centre and surrounding arts & entertainment district

Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland said the BMO convention centre renovations will act as a catalyst for future growth in the area.

“The catalyst for the whole entertainment and culture district and the Rivers district really needs to be the BMO and Events Centre. This will bring in all the private investment at a very fast rate,” he said. “What we need to look at as a council, and this is really critical, that we are not trying to raise taxes but generate revenue and that’s what this will do.”

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Council is expected to look at more detailed information on economic impacts and financing of the new events centre on Jan. 28, 2019.

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