Ward 6 Councillor Jeff Davison announced the City of Calgary signed a “definitive agreement” with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC) and the Calgary Stampede to build a new arena/event centre in the Victoria Park, establishing a culture and entertainment district.
“As we heard at committee this morning, everybody is very comfortable that we are well within the term sheets that we proposed back in July and concluded the deal on the basis of that,” Davison told Danielle Smith on Global News Radio 770 CHQR Thursday.
Davison said the plan is to start construction in the third quarter of 2021, with completion in spring of 2024.
The Calgary Flames have agreed to be the primary tenant of the new event centre for 35 years.
CSEC, who owns the Calgary Flames, will be responsible for $275 million of the arena’s projected $550-million cost. The city will put the same amount toward building the new event centre.
Calgary will also be responsible for the demolition costs of the Scotiabank Saddledome, estimated at $12.4 million, and land and transactional costs at $3 million.
“Our intent here is to take the new event centre and bring it out into the community,” Davison said. “A land swap needed to be effected in order to do that. That’s where the Stampede comes in as a partner.”
The plan is to swap the land under the Saddledome that it owns with a parcel along Olympic Way and 12 Avenue S.E. owned by the Stampede.
The city will own the new arena and receive a quarter of an eight per cent ticket surcharge. The city also receives $250,000 per year for 10 years in naming rights revenue.
In July, the City of Calgary projected $400.3 million in revenues for the city over the 35-year term.
The Calgary Flames Foundation has also committed $1.5 million per year to community sports organizations.
While many at the city celebrated Thursday’s development, others weren’t so keen on officials signing the high-priced deal at a time when residents are facing higher taxes and service cuts.
“It’s ridiculous to me that we’re talking about cutting social services at the same time that we’re talking about putting a whole lot of money towards an arena,” Anna Greenwood-Lee with Keep Calgary Strong said.
“And the message of the campaign Keep Calgary Strong is to keep the needs of the most vulnerable in our city top of mind. And if we need to make cuts, we shouldn’t be making them at their expense.”
Franco Terrazano, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, also said the city’s priorities aren’t straight.
“The most frustrating part here is that city councillors think that it’s better to prioritize getting a ton of money to a professional hockey team than putting that money back into the pockets of Calgary families,” he said.