On Wednesday, the City of Calgary made available their report on their evaluation of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation’s CalgaryNEXT proposal. The proposed project would provide, among other things, a new home for the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.
The City’s assessment was, to be charitable, not particularly enthusiastic in regards to the project. In light of the City’s response and the discussion yesterday by City Council, here are five questions we have following the report.
#1: What amount can the City contribute to the project without hindering their ability to do other things?
One of the City’s big objections to the proposal was, when including infrastructure, land costs and remediation, the City would need to pony up in the vicinity of $1.3 billion to make the project a reality. For a mayoral administration that ran on modernizing Calgary’s transportation and transit infrastructure, that’s a gigantic ask – particularly with the City soon to be on the hook for roughly $2.5 billion worth of the Green Line LRT. An ask north of a billion bucks was likely to get a response of “Sorry, too rich for our blood.”
But that begs the question: what could the City comfortably bring to the table if the CSEC revised their ask?
#2: What would $89 million worth of renovations to McMahon Stadium look like (and what would they accomplish)?
In the report, the McMahon Stadium Society’s figure of between $69 and $89 million was used to describe substantial renovations to McMahon Stadium’s facilities that would make a new home for the Stampeders more or less pointless. But the report glosses over somewhat how extensive those renovations would be and what they would accomplish. Heck, Ken King jokingly referred to the renovations on Sportsnet 960 The Fan as “lipstick on a pig.”
The building’s over 50 years old. How much renovating can the structure withstand?
#3: Where in Stampede Park would a new Flames arena fit?
The City’s report recommended that the CSEC break out the arena/event centre component of the NEXT project and discuss possibilities with the Stampede of putting it in Stampede Park. The big question is where the heck would they put it?
Well, there are two spots where it could fit.
- One is on the northern end of Stampede Park, on the northeast side of Olympic Way and 11th Avenue SE, in the lands beside the railyards. The land is just sitting there idly right now, and putting the arena complex there would anchor the Stampede Park side south of the tracks the way the National Music Centre building is going to anchor the East Village land north of the tracks.
- Another option would be to knock down the aging Big Four Building, on the west end of Stampede Park beside 17th Avenue, and placing the new building there. This option would be a bit closer to the LRT, wouldn’t impact parking on the Stampede Grounds and would give them a great excuse to open up the western side of the park on the 17th Avenue side. The Big Four was built in 1959 – yes, it’s older than McMahon – and once the Corral gets absorbed into the BMO Centre when those renovations eventually happen, the Big Four is the obvious odd-building-out.
Imagine a gorgeous building such as Columbus’ Nationwide Arena (shown above) anchoring the west end of the Stampede Grounds and acting as the gateway from the 17th Avenue district into Stampede Park?
#4: How much would tying a new Stampede Park arena into existing infrastructure cost?
The price tag for the infrastructure work in the West Village was pretty steep – in the vicinity of $327 million of roads, utilities and other things necessary to run an actual building. The Stampede Park site has the benefit of having already been developed, more or less, but how much of a savings would that be from the projected West Village number?
#5: What kind of timeline would a new Flames arena in Stampede Park be looking at for completion?
The West Village site would take between 6 and 10 years for land remediation, and then however long for the actual CalgaryNEXT facility to be built. If the Flames and Stampede Park made nice on a building site and plan, when would it be able to open?
For reference, Rogers Place in Edmonton and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas each took about two years from their ground-breaking to be ready to go.