Nearly two years after a plan for a new sports complex and arena in Calgary was shot down, the province of Alberta, the City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., owners of the NHL Calgary Flames, have bought into a new plan.
The agreement will result in a $1.22 billion sports arena and events centre in Calgary’s River District – and a flash point in the May 29 provincial election.
"This new arena and event centre will be at the heart of Calgary's sports, entertainment and cultural scene for generations, and will result in billions of dollars of economic activity and a higher quality of life for millions of Albertans. Along with Edmonton's Rogers Place, Alberta will now have two of the best and most modern event centres in all the world,” said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith,
The province will contribute up to $300 million, the majority over the next three years, primarily committed to demolition of the aging Saddledome arena, road and bridge construction, transit connections, site utilities, site reclamation and other supportive infrastructure for the arena.
The facility is intended to host games for the NHL’s Calgary Flames hockey team along with other events.
The City of Calgary will spend $537 million to build the hockey rink, while the Calgary Flames ownership will ante $356 million, paid out over 35 years.
In 2019, the City of Calgary had agreed to split the cost of building a rink with the Flames owners, spending about $275 million each. That price tag later ballooned to $608 million before the deal was scrapped.
Under the new memorandum of agreement, the provincial and Calgary are on the hook for most of the cost, at $837 million.
Rachel Notley, Alberta NDP leader and candidate for premier in the upcoming election, was quick to shoot down the deal.
“The cost of the latest proposed arena deal has doubled in size in 18 months and, while the original version laid out a 50-50 private-public partnership, taxpayers are now responsible for more than 70 per cent of the cost,” Notley said in a statement.
Design plans for the new sports and event complex, and a timeline on construction, have yet to be released.