City responds to Flames’ side of the arena proposal
The City of Calgary is responding to the arena proposal the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation released on Thursday morning, questioning discrepancies in the costs needed to build a new facility.
Officials say there isn’t enough money left in a fund that the group hopes to use to fund the building and, furthermore, the city would be saddled with more than half of the costs and wouldn’t see much of a return on its investment.
CSEC says they were willing to fork over $275M for a new arena built in Victoria Park while the city would have had to come up with $225M through what they call a Community Revitalization Levy.
One of the main problems with that plan, the city says, is the fact that the province has frozen the CRL plan pending a review. Depending on the outcome of that review, the CRL program could end up being dissolved completely before a deal is ever struck.
The city also disputes the numbers, saying it would be on the hook for another $55M to buy land and demolish the Saddledome.
It also says the Flames wouldn’t pay rent or property taxes under their proposal while enjoying 100 percent of the revenue generated from all events held at the building, whether they are hockey games, concerts or other events.
The Calgary Flames themselves are trying to avoid thinking about the controversy and instead are just focusing on the season ahead.
Goaltender Mike Smith says that he's been around long enough to know there are things you can't control.
"We're here to play hockey. I've learned over the years that there's stuff you can't control and if you let it affect you, if you think about it, it usually ends up affecting you more. I think it'll be a message in here that anything that happens outside this dressing room really doesn't matter to us; it matters what we do on the ice and as a group in here."
Troy Brouwer says he isn't letting the rhetoric affect him either.
"For us here with the rink, it's kind of one of those things that until it happens, we're assuming that it's not going to happen. So, for that reason, you try not to think about it, try not to worry about it. If it does happen, great; if it doesn't then we play in the Saddledome."
Ward 6 council hopeful Alex Columbos says he has an idea about how a new arena could be funded in Calgary.
He says Calgary needs to look to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who sold public shares to fund their stadium.
“Why don’t we talk about adding an investment certificate that allows any Calgarian, any Albertan, even people from all over Canada to invest in the arena? You’d make a return on your investment, let’s say for the sake of a number, a five percent return to make sure if it’s a fair cost to capital.”
Fans and non-fans alike seem to like that idea.
“I think that works,” says Jeremy McGregor. “A lot of people right now are out of jobs. It gives people something to invest in; it’s going to pay back in my eyes, I think it’s a good option.”
“That’s what every single fan in the world wants,” said Tomas Masak. “Doesn’t matter if it’s soccer, baseball or hockey or whatever people want to be part of any team.”
The city hasn’t commented on Columbos’ proposal, but as mentioned before, the discussion with the CSEC for a new arena is over for now.