August 30, 2021
Some Calgarians can’t wait to enjoy the new Calgary Flames arena, slated for completion in August, 2024. But others remain concerned that city hall is on the hook for yet another giant tab.
After years of negotiations and controversy, the city and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC) agreed in 2019 to split the cost of building a replacement for the iconic Saddledome – the second oldest arena in the NHL. The new event centre will be owned by the city, while the Flames’ ownership group will cover the operation and maintenance costs for 35 years.
But planning was paused in April after the cost estimate escalated to $608.5 million, from $550 million under the original agreement.
In late July, city council and CSEC agreed to commit an additional $12.5 million each to get construction under way, and that CSEC would pick up any additional cost overruns.
Critics say city council shouldn’t have agreed to subsidize a private NHL hockey club owned by wealthy owners. There is worry that the price tag will continue to increase, despite assurances that CSEC will pay additional costs. Some dislike the building’s design and are disappointed it will hold 18,300 seats — around 1,000 fewer than the Saddledome.
But proponents said the new centre, located north of the Saddledome on land owned by the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, is long overdue and will enhance the city’s sports and entertainment scene. It will house the Calgary Flames, Hitmen and Roughnecks. It will also be able to attract leading performers who require newer technology to stage their events.
How do you feel about the new arena?