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City report grounds CalgaryNEXT proposal
While city officials say that Calgary does indeed need a new arena, they’ve found that the CalgaryNEXT proposal may not be the way to go.
Details of a report that was released on Wednesday, shows that the ambitious project would be far too expensive, costing $1.8B, a figure double the original estimate.
The city says that the facility itself would cost $890M, but it’s estimated that the project would need twice that amount to invest in land, municipal infrastructure, environmental remediation and financing.
The building’s location alone would require $140M to clean up creosote contamination, a process that would take about six years to complete.
The city also took issue with revenues through a community revitalization levy, which could be as low as $345M over two decades.
In a statement released Wednesday, Mayor Nenshi confirmed his stance on the proposal.
“I've always said: public money must be used for public benefit,” said Nenshi. “Council will have a robust discussion about this on Monday. City administration has also identified a potential alternative for Council’s consideration that may accomplish the same objectives, but at a lower cost.”
Nenshi believes the report provides valuable information on remediation considerations for the creosote contamination in the West Village, an area which could be redeveloped into a ‘future great community’.
The Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation haven’t commented on the report yet, but it does have until the end of the month to respond.
Sport Calgary, which was looking at the CalgaryNEXT project very favourably because of the promise of a field house included in the plan, says that it is happy with the completed report.
"We're quite satisfied with the city's decision. It's due diligence was right on the money as far as we're concerned," said Perry Cavanagh, president of Sport Calgary. "Certainly, the mandate needed to be what is best for all Calgarians. As a result of that, I feel the city is moving ahead in a proper way."
Cavanagh says that his organization has also completed work on what they would need in terms of a field house and the CalgaryNEXT proposal fulfilled those, but it doesn't mean that another facility somewhere else would work just as well.
"We're not taking a position of one way or another. We're just saying that whichever operator is there, with or without CalgaryNEXT, needs to meet those conditions."
He says that even through there is such a disparity in the cost estimates of the city and the Calgary Sport Entertainment Group, he doesn't believe CalgaryNEXT is over.
"I think that council have yet to meet and have discussions."
Cavanagh knows that a new field house has been on the city's radar for a long time as well and it will be built sometime.
"It's there, as the number one priority, but the money is not there at this time," he said. "We don't see it as something that won't happen as a result of not having that partnership with the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Group. It just might take a little bit longer."
Cavanagh says he will be waiting to see what council has to say after the discussions next week and remains confident that CalgaryNEXT will move forward.
Officials say that while the West Village may not be the best location, there are others that could be considered for future projects.
Administrators have stated that the best alternative would be to build a new rink on the Stampede grounds, near the Saddledome, while a new football stadium should go near the area where McMahon Stadium resides.
The report, which will be discussed when council meets next week, has no details about that those proposals would look like.
You can read the report on the city’s website here.