Olive branch extended? Calgary council creates committee to rekindle ‘event centre’ negotiations with Flames
Calgary City Council has established a committee to explore funding models and options, and to renew talks with the Calgary Flames, for a potential replacement for the Scotiabank Saddledome (file)
Published Monday, May 28, 2018 9:16PM MDT
The members of Calgary City Council approved the establishment of a committee to further explore the possibility of a new arena in Calgary on Monday in an overt gesture of goodwill towards Calgary Flames’ ownership.
“As Councillor Davison has very eloquently put it, ‘You’ve got to be the bigger man’,” said Mayor Nenshi. “You’ve got to say that you’re willing to start the conversation again and I think that’s right, I think that’s the right way to go.”
Ward 6 Councillor Jeff Davison’s notice of motion called for the creation of a committee to explore an ‘event centre’, no longer referred to the proposal solely as an arena, wih an emphasis on the best interest of all Calgarians.
Arena funding negotiations between the Calgary Flames and City of Calgary were called off by the hockey club in the fall of 2017, prior to the municipal election, as the NHL team’s brass referred to the discussions as ‘spectacularly unproductive’.
Davison took to Twitter following the passing of the notice of motion on Monday afternoon to voice his excitement.
Nenshi says his inclusion on the newly created committee was automatic and he plans to remain on the sidelines at the start. “I will absolutely give this group the oxygen to do their work. I intend to not attend, at least at the beginning, to let them sort themselves out.”
According to Nenshi, the funding models of recently approved facilities in Washington and New York, buildings that he referred to as concert centres that are sports centres as well, offer a previously unexplored funding model and reason for optimism.
“When we see what’s happened in Seattle and on Long Island, we can see that the universe of possibilities and potential partners is bigger than it used to be,” ““I think that we should expand our thinking beyond 43 nights of Flames, 40 nights of Hitmen and some lacrosse plus concerts on the side. There’s probably an interesting way to think about this.”
"I have to believe that the Seattle and Long Island versions, and Seattle doesn’t even have any teams yet, they’ve done their cash flows and realized that there’s a way to make this work with significant private funding and get significant payback.”
While Nenshi remains steadfast in his belief that public money must benefit the public and that a third of the funding for the project is the maximum the citizens of Calgarians should bear, the Mayor says he is willing to consider creative solutions and different forms of financing.
“I’m hopeful that everyone come with an open mind and an open heart and really think about what’s possible here and what’s right for Calgary.”