A deal–officially–is in place to build a new hockey arena in Calgary.
After years of back-and-forth, the city and the owners of the NHL Calgary Flames and the Calgary Stampede have signed on the dotted line.
The official announcement was made Thursday and ensures that the Flames will remain in Calgary for at least the next 35 years.
Taxpayers are paying $290 million toward the project; the Flames are paying $275 million.
The two sides had previously agreed to evenly split $550 million in costs, but Calgary Councillor Jeff Davison said Thursday through the negotiating process the city agreed to commit an additional $15 million in taxpayer funding to cover land transfer and demolition costs.
The building replaces the 36-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome as the Flames’ home rink and will serve as an anchor of a planned entertainment distinct bordering the Stampede grounds on the east side of the city’s downtown district, Victoria Park.
Construction on the 19,000-seat arena is expected to begin in late 2021 and to be completed by late 2024.
It will sit just north of where the Saddledome, which will be demolished, is now located.
Officials said Thursday the agreement does not deviate from a deal reached in July.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi acknowledged that the arena “is not something that has universal support and acclaim throughout our community,” but added that it is “the right thing to do.”
“We’ve got a good deal in front of us,” Nenshi said Thursday. “A deal that makes sense for the public purse, but a deal that makes sense for the future of the community as well.”
Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. (CSEC) president and CEO John Bean confirmed the signing of the deal in a statement posted on the Flames’ website.
Bruce Dowbiggin is a long-time resident of Calgary and an even-longer-lover of hockey.
Dowbiggin, who has written numerous books about the sport, its players and its management, currently hosts the Not The Public Broadcaster website.
I spoke with him Friday about what’s taken place over the past few years and what the near future may have in store.Listen