Calgary puts new Flames arena on priority list

Calgary City Council is set to proceed with plans to develop a new arena for the Canadian city’s NHL ice hockey team after a road map was approved for future work on the facility and other infrastructure projects.

The news comes following a marathon strategic council meeting that comprised more than eight hours of debate. It was revealed last month that the project to develop a new arena for the Calgary Flames could cost up to C$600m (£353.4m/€393.3m/$447.3m).

In October, Calgary City Council moved to reopen talks with the Flames over a new arena, a year after the team opted to exit negotiations. The Canadian city’s council voted 13-1 to restart talks for an entertainment district in Victoria Park that would centre on a new arena. Council chair Jeff Davison was given the green light to re-open negotiations with Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, the Flames’ parent company.

The Calgary Herald newspaper has now reported that this week’s meeting saw council members approve the motion that the event centre assessment committee put together a work plan and begin to draw up terms for a potential deal with the Flames.

The meeting was designed to debate the council’s spending priorities, with the new arena and the expansion of the existing BMO Centre convention complex named the priorities for funding.

“By approving the work plan… council was giving priority to the events centre because obviously BMO is already moving forward,” Davison said, according to the Herald. “So this would then put the events centre into that next position. We will now go to the next stage of developing a terms sheet to present to the Calgary Flames.”

The other two projects on the agenda include a new field house facility to be built on the site of the existing McMahon Stadium. A new indoor stadium would be accompanied by two new ice hockey arenas, including one with 6,500 seats, aquatic sports facilities and several retail and residential buildings. This proposal will have a dedicated committee formed to assess its feasibility.

The four projects will be reassessed at a meeting in April, but Davison has stated he feels the arena is ready to move to the “next stage.” Davison said: “It’s priority because the due diligence has been done. Whether you’re for or against any of the (projects), I think the one thing we can agree on is that we have certain files that need a lot more work and then we have certain files that are a lot further along.”

The Flames currently play at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which, having opened in 1983, is the oldest arena in the NHL.

Image: Rossetti/CMLC