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Calgary arena deal reached, will be built in Rivers District


The City of Calgary has signed a deal paving the way for construction of a new arena. 

The city has reached agreements, in principle, with the province, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) and the Calgary Stampede to proceed with the creation of the Culture + Entertainment District in downtown Calgary, in the Rivers District, including a new and publicly-owned event centre.

The deal is valued at $1.2 billion.

The city is contributing 44 per cent, or $537.3 million, and 56 per cent is being contributed by both the province ($330 million) and CSEC ($356 million).

Mayor Jyoti Gondek made the announcement at a Tuesday afternoon news conference on the corner of 14 Avenue and Fifth Street S.E., close to the aging Saddledome.

Gondek was joined by Premier Danielle Smith and event centre committee chair Coun. Sonya Sharp.

In addition to the new arena, the deal includes the creation of public amenities and public infrastructure, including a new community rink, and improvements to public spaces.

"The partnership approach we have taken accomplishes two things: we are building an event centre, and we are also creating the public amenities needed within the Rivers District to build community and enhance quality of life for all Calgarians," said Gondek.

Sharp says the project is about more than a single building.

"It's fulfilling our vision of a home for culture, sports and entertainment. It's a vital investment in our city's future prosperity, vibrancy and growth.”

Smith says the new arena and event centre 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," she said.

CSEC president John Bean says the organization is excited at the prospect of a new event centre and a community rink, adding that the announcement will also help put Calgary "back on the map" for major North American concerts.

Calgary Stampede CEO Joel Crowley, meanwhile, says the organization is honoured to be a partner in the development. 

"The Calgary Stampede has enjoyed having the Calgary Flames as a neighbour since they arrived in 1980," said Cowley.

"When combined with other developments, both existing and planned, an event centre complex of this magnitude will provide an anchor to attract and host the world in Calgary’s Culture + Entertainment District."

Initial discussions about building a new event centre between the city and CSEC ended in late 2021.

Calgary city council then directed city administration to continue working on the project.

In March 2022, the City of Calgary appointed an event centre committee, comprised of three councillors and leaders from Calgary Economic Development and Calgary Chamber of Commerce, to explore the idea.

The Saddledome was built in 1983 and is one of the oldest arenas in the NHL.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his elation over Tuesday afternoon's announcement.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of so much work by so many and is fantastic news for the city of Calgary, the province of Alberta and the Calgary Flames," Bettman said in a written statement.

"I want to thank Mayor Gondek, Premier Smith, Councilwoman Sharp, the Calgary Stampede and the ownership of the Flames, led by Murray Edwards, for their tireless efforts in bringing us to this day. And I extend special thanks to the terrific hockey fans of Calgary for their unflinching support of their team and our league. We can't wait to drop the puck in a new, state-of-the-art arena and look forward to what this development will do for all Calgarians."


The project also includes a number of improvements to the area, including:

New mobility connection: A new four-lane underpass under the CP train tracks with wide sidewalks at Sixth Street S.E., providing pedestrian, wheeling and vehicle connections;

Community rink: Shared facility for public booking and training facility for CSEC teams with seating for 1,000;

Outdoor and indoor gathering spaces: More opportunity for community events onsite;

Street and public realm improvements: Improvements to Fifth Street S.E. and 15, 17 and 25 Avenues S.E.; and

Land: Potential commercial development parcels.


Below is the financial framework and cost estimates, as released by the City of Calgary:

  • Event centre - $800 million;
  • Attached parking - $235.4 million;
  • Enclosed plaza - $9.5 million;
  • On-site public realm - $28.7 million;
  • Community rink - $52.8 million;
  • Transportation improvements, infrastructure and other district benefits - $238.4 million; and
  • Other costs - $58.5 million.

Total: $1,223.3 million

The cost will be shared among public and private investment partners as follows:

The City:

  • $537.3 million to fund the development of the event centre, parking structure, the enclosed plaza and 25 per cent of the community rink.


  • $40 million upfront and $17 million per year (increasing one per cent per year) over 35 years to offset event centre costs, parking, the enclosed plaza and 25 per cent of the community rink

              o   $356 million in present value; $750 million+ over the 35-year term

  • $1.5 million per year to community sports

              o   $25 million in present value; $52.5 million over the 35-year term

The Province

  • $330 million

               o   $300 million to fund transportation improvements, land, infrastructure and site enabling costs, including off-site and on-site utility servicing costs, public realm and site clearing/demolition.
               o   $30 million to fund 50 per cent of the community rink.

Calgary Stampede

  •  Agreed to certain land sales and transfers that will allow for the development of the event centre that enables a vibrant entertainment district surrounding the event centre.


City administration will begin formal discussions on definitive agreements with all parties, throughout the spring and summer.

The city says it is preparing now to begin on design and development of the event centre, as well as the supporting infrastructure in the area. 


Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notely released a statement following Tuesday's announcement, in which she criticized the cost of the deal.  

"We note that 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.

"The commitment has increased. We believe all voters would expect their elected representatives to do due diligence on the economics and fiscal value of a capital project this size.

"With that in mind, we will be reviewing the deal in greater detail, will be consulting directly with Albertans about its contents and will have more to say in the coming days."


Calgary Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Deborah Yedlin says the organization is "thrilled" an agreement has been reached.

"This city-building initiative will enhance the growth and reputation of our city as a top tourist destination, where there are year-round opportunities to engage in arts, sports and entertainment activities," Yedlin said in a statement.

"It cannot be overstated how critical investments in infrastructure are to our economic growth.

"The event centre – as an anchor of the Culture + Entertainment District – will make Calgary more attractive as an international host city for conferences and events, with the surrounding infrastructure instrumental for creating opportunities for businesses, jobs and increasing the vibrancy and livability of Calgary.

"The Calgary Chamber looks forward to working closely with government and private sector partners to ensure businesses from across the city and of all sizes benefit from this announcement, with the goal of advancing long term economic opportunities that benefit all Calgarians." Top Stories

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