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Design & Development

Final agreements signed for Flames arena, Scotiabank Arena set for C$350m upgrade

Images: City of Calgary

The four parties involved in developing a C$1.22bn (£729m/€843.3m/$889.6m) project that will deliver a new arena for the Calgary Flames have signed final agreements on a scheme dubbed a “generational investment” in the city’s future, while Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) is set to announce a C$350m revamp plan for Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

The signed agreements between the City of Calgary, Province of Alberta, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), and Calgary Stampede give the project the green light to begin the design and construction phase and move the city one step closer to breaking ground on a new Event Centre which will be part of a wider Culture + Entertainment District (C+E District).

The news yesterday (Thursday) comes after a deal that was announced in late April between the team’s ownership (CSEC), which owns the existing Scotiabank Saddledome and the Flames, along with city and provincial governments.

Further details behind this deal emerged in June as it was revealed that the Flames will be committed to staying in the city under the terms of a 35-year lease agreement for the proposed new arena.

The project aims to support the continued momentum in the District that’s already underway through Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s (CMLC) leadership of the Rivers District Master Plan.

More than an Event Centre, the project includes new community amenities and infrastructure— downtown’s only community rink, new public plazas and gathering places, new mobility connections and streets and public realm improvements.

“At this critical moment when we are seeing explosive population growth and increasing private sector interest in our city, the confirmation that our Culture + Entertainment District is proceeding to design and construction phases will generate strong investor confidence,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

“This project will create better public gathering spaces, improved transportation networks, a downtown community rink and an arena to drive events that spur hosting and tourism opportunities, along with creation of jobs in the construction, retail and entertainment sectors.”

Beginning this autumn, the development manager, CAA ICON, whose appointment alongside design consultant DIALOG + HOK was confirmed yesterday, will begin utility and site preparations to make room for the community rink, public plazas and Event Centre.

They will also begin work for the development permit process, which includes designing the community rink, Event Centre and public gathering spaces on the Event Centre Block. The permit process is expected to be completed in 2024, followed by construction beginning the same year.

“CSEC is proud to partner in this community effort to build Calgary’s Event Centre and Cultural + Entertainment District,” said John Bean, CSEC president and CEO. “We are happy to have the legal agreements finalised and look forward to the design and construction stage.”

The arena itself is expected to take up C$800m of the total cost for the Culture +Entertainment District. The circa C$1.22bn scheme is expected to see the City chip in C$537.3m, CSEC contribute C$356m and the Province add C$330m.

CSEC exited a previous project to develop a new 19,000-seat arena for the Flames in December 2021. The project was first unveiled in 2019 but faced a number of contentious moments. A statement at the time said that CSEC and the City had been unable to resolve a number of issues relating to the escalating costs of the venture.

The Flames have played at the Saddledome since it opened in 1983, but have long been seeking a new arena. Officials are hoping that the newly proposed scheme will see an arena delivered for 2026-27, leading to the demolition of the Saddledome.

Scotiabank Arena poised for major renovations

In other Canadian major league arena news, MLSE has said it will present the ‘Scotiabank Arena Venue Reimagination’ project on October 10.

MLSE, which owns and operates the arena, along with its NHL and NBA occupants, the Maple Leafs and Raptors, has said the C$350m venture will include “capital improvements to almost all areas within the venue including concourses, suites, premium clubs, retail spaces, food and beverage offerings, state-of-the-art technological innovations and more.”

The project is set to represent the largest investment in the arena since it opened in 1999 at a cost of C$288m.

In August 2019, MLSE said Scotiabank Arena would undergo a multimillion-dollar “reimagination” to improve the fan experience.