Calgary fieldhouse to be a ‘catalyst’ for Foothills Athletic Park redevelopment

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Calgary fieldhouse to be a ‘catalyst’ for Foothills Athletic Park redevelopment
The City of Calgary is forming a new committee with the goal of seeing a new fieldhouse built in the Foothills Athletic Park. Adam MacVicar reports. – Jan 30, 2023

The City of Calgary is shifting its focus for the Foothills Athletic Park redevelopment project with the creation of a new committee tasked with getting a multi-sport fieldhouse built in the area.

The Foothills Athletic Park Redevelopment Assessment Committee got an update on the work on Monday morning.

City administration told committee the fieldhouse would serve as a “catalyst” for future redevelopment of the area.

A new committee, chaired by Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian will be formed on Feb. 14 and will be focused on advancing a multi-sport fieldhouse.

“It really does require a first mover, and that’s what the city is planning to do with moving forward with that fieldhouse,” Mian told reporters. “A lot of that private development, in terms of condos and other things that will develop around there, will come once that public investment is there and there’s attraction to living in the area.”

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The city’s plan to revamp the area around the Foothills Athletic Park and McMahon Stadium began in 2019, which was followed by a conceptual plan that was given council approval in 2021.

Read more: Proponents of Calgary fieldhouse are hopeful new concept plan will give project more traction

The conceptual plan calls for a transformation of the area into a vibrant community that would include athletic facilities, 2,500 residential units, commercial and retail space and renovations to McMahon Stadium.

A concept from the City of Calgary detailing redevelopment at the Foothills Athletic Park. Courtesy: City of Calgary

According to Mian, the city can’t move forward on the overall redevelopment without first investing in the fieldhouse.

“The overall beautiful vision for the Foothills Athletic Park area will take many years to realize, but we won’t realize it unless we start somewhere,” Mian said. “That’s where we are right now.”

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City administration told committee there is $109 million set aside for the fieldhouse project after a $20 million boost from city council in the latest budget deliberations.

However, the total cost of the project isn’t yet known, with the latest estimates in 2019 pegging the project at $285 million.

“We’ll see what the number comes in at as we move to the next step,” the city’s infrastructure manager Michael Thompson told committee. “But definitely we have a significant amount of funding earmarked for this project.”

One of the tasks of the committee will be to advocate for funding from other levels of government.

The University of Calgary, which owns a large chunk of the lands around McMahon Stadium and has been a stakeholder in the area’s redevelopment concept, said it supports the project but won’t be able to help fund it.

Read more: No funding for field house from University of Calgary

“While the university is not in a position to provide financial support to the project, it remains supportive of both the fieldhouse and athletic park redevelopment projects and looks forward to continuing to work with the city as the project proceeds,” the school said in a statement to Global News.

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City administration is currently working on a study to assess what amenities a future fieldhouse would need to support local sports organizations and leagues.

According to James Holder, president of the Calgary Track Council, the fieldhouse would help bring together different track and field groups into one location, as many are scattered at different locations across the city.

“We don’t have a home in Calgary for track and field,” Holder told Global News. “Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, they all have these wonderful facilities that the university teams and the community teams can build and grow, and we are really handcuffed by that.”

Several organizations have been involved in assessing a redevelopment of the Foothills Athletic Park, including Tourism Calgary and Sport Calgary.

“We will continue to advocate for the fieldhouse as we know that it will be a great sport and community hub,” Sport Calgary president Catriona Le May Doan said in a statement. “The fieldhouse conversation has been happening for a very long time and finally the physical and mental health of our community is being put as a priority.”

Tourism Calgary estimates a fieldhouse and revamped athletic park could generate upwards of $20 million in annual economic activity through hosting sporting events at the facilities.

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