City of Calgary, Flames close to deal on new arena

A negotiating team for the city is close to reaching a deal with the Calgary Flames on building a new arena to replace the NHL team’s aging home rink, a council member says.

Coun. Ward Sutherland told CBC News there is a proposal ready to present to city council on Monday.

“It’s not a deal at this particular point, there’s still lots of steps to go through. It’s really a proposal and we’ll be giving an update,” Sutherland said.

“Negotiations, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, had been ongoing. It’s a multi-party deal, so it’s very complex. It deals with the Stampede board, the Flames organization, CMLC [Calgary Municipal Land Corporation] and also the city.”

Talk about a new arena to replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, which opened in 1983, has been swirling for years.

Negotiations between the city and the Flames ownership on a new arena fell apart in 2017.  

The head of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Group, Ken King, said at that time the city’s contribution toward a $550-million arena was far short of what the team’s owners wanted.

The city is being represented in the negotiations by lawyer Barry Munro; the CEO of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, Michael Brown; and by the acting city manager, Glenda Cole.

The negotiating team was instructed to follow council’s direction on a potential arena deal.

Negotiations between the city and the Flames ownership on a new arena fell apart in 2017. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Those conditions include that any public money must be used for public benefit, and that a new arena be viable on its own while being a catalyst for the redevelopment of east Victoria Park.

“I suspect that if we stay within that financial framework that I don’t see why council wouldn’t accept and ratify the deal later on,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland says the project is much more than an arena for the Flames.

“Yes, it has an arena inside it, but it’s set up for the future — we’re talking about e-games, e-entertainment, virtual reality concerts, mixed use. It’s quite different,” he said.

“This is the future of Calgary,” he said, noting that the expansion of the BMO Centre is already underway.

Sutherland said he’s confident the project will be the catalyst for the whole Rivers District to take off, generating hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment in hotels and other things.

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