Well, this could be it. Rumours of a Calgary entertainment complex (including a new stadium) look to be revealed soon. Hope this isn't a false alarm for a stadium announcement and that it is only a new arena (if that wasn't enough)
Flames to debut arena plans soon, won't 'steal money' from city: King
Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald March 5, 2015
By month’s end, Calgarians should know where the Calgary Flames want to build their next arena and how they hope to pay for it — a proposal CEO Ken King has been devising since at least 2007.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s office has confirmed King will give him a sneak preview within the next two weeks, before he finally unveils to the public the team’s vision for a new downtown complex to replace the Saddledome.
Depending on what sort of government financial assistance Flames owners are seeking, this announcement stands to thrust Calgary into years of public debate, if Edmonton’s arena saga is any guide.
“I think people will love what they see and they’ll like the funding mechanism, so they’ll like the whole package, I really believe that,? King told KISS 95.9 radio station Thursday. He also said he’ll release plans in a “couple of weeks.?
The team owners’ frontman declined an interview to clarify what sort of shape his funding plan will take. He did, however, rule out one potential method.
“Before any of your listeners have conniptions, when you see our project, people are just going to love it. And we’re not going to sneak in here and steal money from the city,? King told the radio hosts.
City councillors have pre-emptively narrowed his options further.
The 15 members are almost uniformly opposed to redirecting scarce infrastructure dollars at a professional sports facility, though other options may be on the table.
“The best option perhaps is just going to be making land available, but no dollars. Because there are no dollars,? said Coun. Ward Sutherland, vice-chair of council’s priorities and finance committee.
Even free land is a tough sell for several council members. Nenshi is wary of a land giveaway, especially in high-value areas like West Village, the city-owned lands around the Greyhound station where it’s widely perceived the Flames want to develop.
“I’ve always said that I’m open to having a conversation on anything, but wherever there is public contribution there has to be very significant public benefit,? Nenshi said in a brief interview Thursday. “I’m not interested in public money subsidizing solely private profit.?
He refused to elaborate on what he deems public benefit. King has said he’ll pitch an “extremely ambitious? project and has hinted it will offer more than an arena, to give it wider appeal. The rumour mill has brimmed with ideas such as an amateur sports field house and a new Stampeders football stadium.
According to documents the Herald reported on in November, King and the mayor’s office have previously discussed locating the complex in West Village, the expanse of car dealerships and the Greyhound station west of downtown. It’s earmarked for eventual redevelopment on par with East Village, though the land is easily big enough to fit a hockey barn, within walking distance of the Sunalta LRT.
The Flames have been seriously planning a replacement for the Saddledome since at least 2007, and in earlier days looked at staying within Stampede Park. Back then, King had predicted his team would be skating in a new home by 2014.
But as Oilers owner Daryl Katz navigated through a years-long civic funding struggle and began construction on Rogers Place in the meantime, the Flames organization has been mired in site selection wrangling and study.
The Saddledome, completed in 1983, will be the oldest arena in the National Hockey League once new venues are completed in Detroit and Edmonton, and the New York Islanders move to new digs in Brooklyn. Flames brass bemoan that its lower bowl is too small, and it lacks the luxury box space that newer venues boast.
The saddle-shaped roof has also become a huge headache for large concert organizers. Touring acts like Maroon 5, Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift have booked Edmonton’s Rexall Place and skipped Calgary. In fact, that’s the issue that prompted King to take to the airwaves Thursday, on a pop music station that’s running a ticket giveaway Friday for tickets to see Madonna in Edmonton.
On funding, King cannot count on the provincial or federal governments for assistance if Calgary stymies him, as they didn’t contribute to the arena in Edmonton.
City councillors there agreed to cough up nearly three-quarters of the costs for the Oilers’ $480-million downtown complex, though not through direct grants. Most of it will come from a city-levied ticket tax, parking revenue and a community revitalization levy which is paid for through property taxes on future downtown Edmonton developments and reassessed buildings.
The Flames haven’t found as willing a partner in the mayor’s office as Oilers owner Daryl Katz had with Stephen Mandel, the capital’s former mayor. In 2011, Nenshi rejected King’s request to strike an independent committee to study the need of a new arena.
“The mayor said, ‘Well, show me a presentation,’ and as he is aware we’ve had a lot of conversations with him,? King said Thursday. “I think in fairness to him, he’s the first person that should see the fully fleshed plan.?
Nenshi’s office, which boasts about publishing his meeting list every few months, would not disclose the schedule date for his sit-down with Flames officials.