It’s official. The Calgary Flames will have a new home to replace the aging Saddledome after council voted 11-4 in favour of a new $550-million event centre. 

But what are the next steps to turn the approved building into a reality?

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) will now manage the particulars of the deal and finalize agreements between the City of Calgary, Calgary Stampede and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC).  

CMLC says construction is expected to begin sometime in 2021. No firm date has been selected but the hope is to complete the project by 2024. The Saddledome would then be demolished a short time after that. 

Clare LePan, vice-president of marketing and communications for CMLC, says a hefty public consultation period will take place over the next year or so.

“As CMLC’s role, part of that includes an extended consultation around not only the architectural design of the building, but also looking at how the facility integrates into the district,” LePan said. 

“We want to look at what types of programmatic experiences or amenities work well to create a space that’s active and vibrant not just for hockey games, but all year-round.”

CMLC says it’s now looking for inspiration from other successful arena plans like the facilities built in Seattle or Edmonton. 

A strong emphasis has also been placed on accessibility to the arena. 

LePan says Calgary’s new arena will be just north of where the Saddledome currently sits. 

“We refer to it as the critical corner,” she said. 

“It’s 12th Avenue and 4th Street (S.E.) so it’s right at that gateway entry point and it would be two blocks north of the future Green Line (LRT) and two blocks east of the current Red Line.”

Big questions remain as to whether the project can be built on time and more importantly on budget. 

Should the project go over budget, it’s been agreed that both CSEC and the city will share the burden. 

“We would run a very specific process through the design process stage, right up through final design and drawings for the project that would have both parties signing off with multiple stages before that point,” LePan said. 

“It’s to ensure that when we get into construction and shovels are in the ground that everyone is in agreement and all of the costs are considered up until that point.”

LePan added that either the city or the Flames could put in additional money for new features in the arena, but she doesn’t expect that to happen. 

On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on the approval of a new arena for the Flames.

“We could not be more thrilled. This is a great day for Calgary, the Flames and hockey. We look forward to launching an exciting future for this wonderful team in its new home and are grateful to the citizens of Calgary, the City Council and Mayor Nenshi,” he said.

Meanwhile, Barry Munro, president of Ernst and Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc., maintained in council chambers Tuesday that the city shouldn’t be paying for any cost overruns.

He did however add that the city could be on the hook for additional flood mitigation costs over $2 million.