By the numbers: How does Calgary’s proposed new arena stack up against other NHL rinks

Click to play video: 'Calgary arena proposal: How it stacks up against Edmonton'
Calgary arena proposal: How it stacks up against Edmonton
WATCH: The Battle of Alberta has covered sports, libraries, and now, arenas. Cami Kepke takes a look at how Calgary's proposed arena deal stacks up against its neighbor to the north – Jul 23, 2019

Many sports fans and Calgarians alike are hopeful that Calgary, once again, is one step closer to seeing a new NHL arena in the downtown core.

A new, tentative agreement struck between the City of Calgary and Calgary Flames ownership was opened up for public review on Monday and expected to be voted on by city council on Tuesday, July 30.

The plan for the $550-million event centre, which will host not only NHL games but other sports and entertainment events, will see taxpayers forking over a great deal of the funds going into the building.

So how does the proposed Calgary arena plan compare to other NHL arenas built in recent years?

Proposed new Calgary arena — future home of the Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames may be playing in a brand new arena in the years to come, after the City of Calgary and the Flames ownership — the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation — reached a tentative 50/50 deal to build a new event centre in the city’s downtown.

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The proposal is the latest in a series of options that have been presented in recent years to replace the ageing and ailing Saddledome.

  • Proposed groundbreaking: 2021
  • Proposed opening date: TBA
  • Capacity for hockey games: Roughly 19,000
  • Cost: Estimated at $550 million

Little Caesars Arena — home of the Detroit Red Wings

The Little Caesars Arena opened in 2017 at a price tag that was nearly double what was originally budgeted for the facility.

In a reanalysis of the cost, the City of Detroit explained in a modified plan that the cost had been increased from $450 million to $862 million.

  • Ground was broken: September 2014
  • Arena opened: September 2017
  • Capacity for hockey games: 19,515
  • Cost: $826 million US ($1.1 billion CAD at current exchange rate)

Rogers Place – home of the Edmonton Oilers

The doors of the second-newest NHL arena opened in September 2016 and just a little more than a week later, the arena welcomed about 20,000 people for its first concert.

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The first regular season Oilers game, a Battle of Alberta against the Calgary Flames, was held that October.

  • Ground was broken: March 2014
  • Arena opened: September 2016
  • Capacity for hockey games: 18,641
  • Cost: $613.7 million ($475 million US at current exchange rate)

T-Mobile Arena – home of the Las Vegas Golden Knights

The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas opened its doors in 2016 and soon became home to the NHL’s newest team — the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

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Not long after the 31st NHL franchise team took to the ice for the first time, the new arena hosted hundreds of fans for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals in May 2018.

  • Ground was broken: May 1, 2014
  • Arena opened: April 6, 2016
  • Capacity for hockey games: 17,500
  • Cost: $375 million US ($492 million CAD at current exchange rate)

Barclays Center – home of the New York Islanders

The Islanders moved into Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015, three years after the facility opened its doors in 2012.

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Less than one season in, the team was already looking for ways to cut ties with the arena, according to a report by the New York Post.

  • Ground was broken: March 11, 2010
  • Arena opened: 2012 (New York Islanders moved in in 2015)
  • Capacity for hockey games: 15,795
  • Cost: $1 billion US ($1.3 billion CAD at current exchange rate)

Consol Energy Center – home of the Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Ground was broken: August 2008
  • Arena opened: fall 2010
  • Capacity for hockey games: 18,387
  • Cost: $321 million US ($421.7 million at current exchange rate)

Prudential Center – home of the New Jersey Devils

  • Ground was broken: Oct. 3, 2005
  • Arena opened: Oct. 25, 2007
  • Capacity for hockey games: 16,514
  • Cost: $377 million US ($495 million CAD at current exchange rate)

Gila River Arena – home of the Arizona Coyotes

  • Ground was broken: April 3, 2002
  • Arena opened: December 2003
  • Capacity for hockey games: 18,000
  • Cost: $225 million US ($295.6 million CAD at current exchange rate)

The bottom line

By the numbers, Calgary’s arena would cost less than some recent builds and involves less public funding than in Edmonton and Detroit. But when it comes down to bang for the taxpayer’s buck, Edmonton may have won that battle, according to sports economist Moshe Lander.

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Even though Calgary’s new deal carries a smaller price tag, the province kicked in about $25 million for Rogers Place, meaning all Albertans helped foot the bill.

Edmontonians forked over $279 million for their $614-million arena through an imposed tax.

“Community revitalization levies like they used up in Edmonton is basically code for saying, ‘Whatever new businesses sprout up around it, we’re going to extract money out of them and give it to the ownership group as a way of helping them pay for the arena,'” Lander said.

Edmonton also implemented a ticket tax; a surcharge on every ticket sold that will eventually cover 20 per cent of the building cost.

“If you’re going to use the new facility, then you should pay for the new facility,” Lander added. “If the city wants to recover its investment, charging people who use the new facility is the way to go. If you don’t want to use the new facility, you’ll never pay the tax.”

WATCH: Global Edmonton’s Vinesh Pratap takes a look at how Calgary’s tentative arena deal compares to an arena deal signed in Edmonton six years ago.

Click to play video: 'How does Calgary’s tentative arena deal compare to deal to build Rogers Place in Edmonton?'
How does Calgary’s tentative arena deal compare to deal to build Rogers Place in Edmonton?

Lander also said losing Calgary’s current arena would mean losing a major part of the city’s look and personality.

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“The Saddledome is one of those great buildings that matches the soul of the city. This city was built on rodeos and horses and Stampede and that Saddledome is a saddle dome; it’s exactly what reflects the city,” he said.

Lander said the new arena — a “glass and wooden structure” — takes some of the soul out of Calgary.

“While the new arena inside might have all the amenities and might be great, it doesn’t frame nicely. I think that for $275 million of taxpayer money, somebody in this city should have said, ‘Wait! You need to make that reflect our city and who we are as a city and what we value,’ and I think they missed the boat on that one,” he said.

“Rogers Place doesn’t look much better but there was never an ask that was done on it. It was merely just, ‘Get the deal done and stop that team from moving to Seattle.'”

– With files from Global News’ Kaylen Small, Cami Kepke and Caley Ramsay

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