It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames want a new building. The Scotiabank Saddledome is getting on in years and next season, when the Detroit Red Wings move into Little Caesars Arena, the ‘Dome will be older than every National Hockey League barn aside from Madison Square Garden (which has been completely renovated several times).
In advance of some expected developments from City Council in the New Year regarding the proposed “Plan B,” an article from Postmedia’s Annalise Klingbeil dropped a rather interesting bombshell: the CalgaryNEXT mega-project is on hold.
“We’re not talking about CalgaryNEXT; we put the pause button on
that,” King, the CEO of the group that owns the Flames, Hitmen,
Roughnecks and Stampeders, told Postmedia in a year-end interview on
Instead, King said the two sides are meeting regularly to discuss a potential event centre in Victoria Park.
The Flames organization has been working on a new home for the hockey team to some extent since 2007, when they commissioned a study looking at their future options. The June 2013 flood that decimated the event level of the Saddledome sent the project into overdrive, and a corporate re-shuffling of the organization later that year freed up Ken King to focus on the arena efforts.
CalgaryNEXT was unveiled in August 2015 and didn’t get the rapturous reaction that some may have expected. Kent Wilson did a great job examining some of the many, many issues with the proposal. The Flames began negotiations with city hall in the fall of 2015 and by the spring, the city concluded that the proposed complex would be really, really expensive to build in the West Village. That was probably the death knell for the project in that form, as much of the discourse has pivoted to a Plan B proposal.
City council is expected to receive a report from administration with an estimated Plan B cost early in 2017. The Plan B site is expected to be in Stampede Park, which would fit in nicely with the Stampede Board’s plans to modernize the park and potentially integrate with both (a) the East Village redevelopment being spear-headed by the City and (b) the Green Line LRT, which is expected to run down 12th Avenue on the north end of Stampede Park.
That said, it’s probably too early to judge whether Plan B is a good plan or not until we are told how much it’ll cost, how long it’ll take, and how much public money will be thrown into it. All we know for sure is that CalgaryNEXT was a big, big ask for public money that went over rather poorly.