After years of delays and false starts, it appears plans for a new NHL hockey arena for the Calgary Flames are back in play.
Last month, Calgary councillors approved funding that could pave the way for a major capital project that would include an expansion of the BMO Centre and a replacement for the existing Saddledome arena.
The price range for a new 20,000-seat sports arena would be $500 million to $600 million, according to estimates from the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC). CSEC, which owns the Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Roughnecks, paid a Detroit architectural design firm for the conceptual drawings that were first unveiled three years ago.
At that time, the city balked at the price tag, and, in 2017, the Calgary Flames threatened to leave the city if a new arena could not be built.
Now, however, the city is considering $300 million in potential funding for a grant project that would also include the first phase of a new Arts Commons and a multi-sport field house, according to reports in CBC and the Calgary Herald.
Coun. Jeff Davison, chair of council’s event centre committee, told reporters that formal negotiations have yet to begin but he’s confident that the committee will soon be able to bring forward the “right type of proposal.”
“We want to put our best foot forward. We’re being extra cautious and spending extra time to make sure that any proposal that we move forward with is our best position to be in,” Davison said.
“We know we have to try something different. What we do know at this point is that we have a willing partner who’s potentially out there and willing to invest a significant amount of capital with us in a facility that the City of Calgary will own – that’s different than what we’ve ever had before.”