New NHL arena returns to the agenda in Calgary

Calgary City Council has moved to reopen talks with the Calgary Flames over a new arena, a year after the NHL ice hockey team opted to exit negotiations.

The Canadian city’s council yesterday (Tuesday) voted 13-1 to restart talks for an entertainment district in Victoria Park that would centre on a new arena. Council chair Jeff Davison will seek to re-open negotiations “right away” with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, the Flames’ parent company.

“We’ll probably let them know right away what council decided here today and set up a time to probably meet,” Davison said, according to the Calgary Herald newspaper. “First and foremost the question is, do we have a partner at the table with us or not? Once we have that we can undertake what does a partnership look like.”

The Flames currently play at the Scotiabank Saddledome (pictured), which, having opened in 1983, is the oldest arena in the league. The September 2017 decision to end the pursuit for a new arena came after months of talks with officials in Calgary, with Flames president and chief executive Ken King having not seen eye to eye with the city’s Mayor, Naheed Nenshi, on the direction the team should take.

King said yesterday: “We are not making any formal comment but we are looking forward to hearing from them.”

While no financial details have been provided regarding the cost of a new arena, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation has projected that once the entire Victoria Park redevelopment has been completed, the city could benefit from an additional C$50m (£29.2m/€33.4m/$38.5m) to C$60m in annual tax revenue.

The city has requested that Calgary Economic Development carry out an economic analysis of the entertainment district proposal, with Nenshi wary over whether a new arena is the best fit for Victoria Park.

“We have to be very careful when we’re making these statements and that’s why we need to do the analysis,” Nenshi said. “There’s an arena there now and the only difference between the existing arena and a new one would be a few more nights of concerts a year — nobody is building a hotel based on 10 concerts. The key question that council has to really attack on this is, what’s different?”

Image: Victor Duarte