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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

City unveils Victoria Park arena proposal details

We may finally be a step closer to some substantive discussion about a new Calgary Flames arena and an end to the never-ending story that is “The Future of the Scotiabank Saddledome.” On Monday, Calgary city council will debate the merits of a proposed Victoria Park arena project. On Friday afternoon, the report to be debated was released on the City’s website.

The proposed spot for the new building is in the two big parking spots located north of the Saddledome and just east of the Cowboys Casino. The report makes zero mention of cost, as the point was just to determine feasibility, but it mentions that discussions on budgetary needs are ongoing to determine if the concept is actually viable. For what it’s worth, the methodology to choose the space was effectively to “break out” the event centre concept from CalgaryNEXT and find a suitable enough space for it. As you can see from the scale of the above map, the space chosen would fit the Saddledome’s footprint easily.

How would it work? Well, the parking lots are owned by the Stampede Board. The new building would be built, the Saddledome would then be demolished, and the Stampede Board would trade the land for the new building to the Flames for the land where the Saddledome was. The location of the proposed building would put it right nearby the new Green Line LRT – which would probably help with the lost parking spots – and because of its proximity to the East Village and placement in the Rivers Community Revitalization Levy area, the new building could receive CRL funding for things like utilities and infrastructure tie-ins.

It’s hard to compare this proposal with the Flames’ CalgaryNEXT concept without seeing costs, but this option seems to align well with the developments already underway in the East Village and planned for the greater Stampede Park area. And the proposal’s proximity to the LRT and the East Village might make it easier for the City to kick in some financial support without straight up forking over millions of infrastructure dollars to the Flames willy nilly.

  • FuNky ANGER

    The one thing I hate about Plan B is that there is no plan on replacing Mcmahon stadium. As much as love going to Stamps games with my Dad; I can say that I don’t love the concourse at all. There are so many things that are such an after thought like the hamburger grills that smoke out anyone walking near by due to no mechanical ventilation, as well as the poor amount of washrooms. Maybe I just have envy for what the Riders and Bombers have but it sure would be nice to replace that aging facility too in all of this.

    • FuNky ANGER

      It would be nice if once they demo the saddledome if they could build the new stadium/fieldhouse there if room permitted. However I’m not sure if that would be an ideal location. Mind you with 2 C-train lines feeding that area maybe it would work.

    • Emir

      I would worry about relocation. The NHL won’t move the coyotes and they are a failing franchise. Bettman and the Flames will be disappointed that they won’t get a new rink for free but frankly the people of Calgary don’t care to give handouts to Billionaires either. They can’t leave a market who is supporting them and making money. They will just have to accept the fact that they have to pay for the rink.

      I have to admit that this proposal looks good to start. I like CalgaryNEXT but it’s cost is out of hand so it’s hard to be in love with it plus all the infrastructure needed to support it.

      As for McMahon, it is something that the city needs to address. It’s an awful venue and unlike the NHL the CFL just doesn’t make as much and that’s where the fieldhouse is needed.

    • Truculence

      LOL! I just love how people claim that NHL teams will just up and move when their pouting doesn’t lead to new arenas paid for by Canadian taxpayers. Yeah, San Francisco and Seattle must have rabid hockey fan-bases just waiting to expend communal tax dollars for new arenas. Some Canadians are such chumps (Coilers). The Flames, or any Canadian NHL team, aren’t going anywhere. They make money. The NHL already has six or more NHL franchises that survive solely on the welfare cheques that the Canadian teams, along with NE American hockey teams, pay out every year. To assume that they would vacate one of the few profitable cities to flee to yet another questionable American market is ludicrous. NHL owners are billionares for a reason, and they only become communists when they want the public to contribute to their economic well-being like the morons in Edmonton did.

      • Randaman

        And those morons have a beautiful arena that has completely revitalized the downtown core. You could only hope that the same thing happens in Calgary unless going to the saddle dump is a great game experience for you morons.

        • CMG30

          In case you hadn’t noticed, there is no issue in Calgary with vitality in the downtown. The only thing stopping development on the west side is the pollution. East Village is full steam ahead. Having a shiny new arena is a nice-to-have toy but any suggestion that we need it for revitalization is flat out crazy especially when you consider that the ‘dome is already downtown. Edmonton’s downtown had been stagnant for decades.

  • class1div1

    This feels like the natural spot for a new arena. Flames build it on there coin.

    City donates land in East Village after reclamation for a new Fieldhouse. A new clr kicks in that supports building up the area .The infrastructure needed here would be substantial including Bow Trail and Crowchild tie-ins.All these things need to be done eventually anyway. I t amazes me that the land remains contaminated. Maybe the province puts up a govt building as well.to support jobs for Calgarians instead of Edmonton claiming them all.

    • Pyroflatulence

      After the NDP racks up the provinces debt, our credit rating falls, and the Party is voted out of office next term, I would not want a government job. Edmonton can keep them. On that note, it might be wise to get some provincial funding in place for a new arena before the NDP gets the boot.

      • Pyroflatulence

        And the Flames will not build it on their coin. It will be a cost shared project. I don’t have an issue with this as long as the costs are shared evenly.

        • piscera.infada

          Can you explain the benefits to the city of the city owning the building? As far as I can tell, there are none long-term, and very few short-term (assuming a funding model that includes a CRL or some sort of city loan paid back through rent–which, using Edmonton as an example, includes both).

          The whole “city asset” thing is a red-herring, in the truest sense of the term. There is a very real reason why organisations who build these projects rarely (if ever) want to own them.

          • Stu Cazz

            I think your question is best answered when the entire East Village plan is revealed. My understanding is that this “culture, entertainment and sports centre” will be the key to the revitalization in that area. My own experience in merely attending sports events in US cities is the opportunity for further development such as hotels, condos, casino’s, restaurants etc. This all adds up to additional general revenues, parking, business/property taxes. The combination of Flames, Hitmen, concerts, entertainment/cultural events, amateur sports, stampede events etc would easily equate to 200+ events per year. An ownership sharing with the Flames sports group is also not out of the question….

          • piscera.infada

            First, you need to look at how a CRL works (assuming that’s part of a deal here–which I assume it it because you used the word “revitalize”). It’s a loan that assumes that over a prolonged period of time, excess property taxes (the additional property taxes over the current tax rate in the area) are levied to pay back said loan and interest. As such, with the size of these loans, you rarely even break-even on the loan from those additional property taxes, but even if you do, there are no realized increases in property tax revenue over the time it takes to pay back the loan.

            What’s more, who pays the property tax on a city-owned asset? The city. Effectively, they’re just paying off their own (and usually, part of the provinces) loan. This can work in a area like the current East Village, simply because of the sheer amount of new residential and commercial opportunity–and that’s yet to be seen. That said, they very often fail, like Eau Claire did (for reasons I’ll point out in my next point). Now, add to that the fact that a massive percentage of the “revitalized” area will be eaten-up by a massive city-owned asset.

            Finally (and this is the most salient point), “revitalization” can work, but it is incumbent upon many things. You have to realize that (especially in a city the size of Calgary) there are only a finite number of consumers who will use that revitalized area. Where do those consumers come from? Older areas that are/were hubs of entertainment. Now, if your argument is simply “there are no suitable entertainment areas in Calgary”, then perhaps I can concede this point. That said, that was the argument for Eau Claire, and again, that turned out to be a horrible bet. People stayed in Stephen Ave, 17th Ave, and the Beltline. You’re essentially diverting consumers from one area to another, which thusly creates problems in the old area. Add to this fact, that the city is unlikely to bet against the East Village, by creating a competing project in the West Village–for good reason.

            Let me say, I am not vehemently against using public money in any form. It needs to make sense for the city though. I think there is a very workable deal in Victoria Park, for the reasons eluded to above. I just hope the Flames can come to the table with something better than the “Katz-plan 2.0”.

      • class1div1

        LOL.I recently had a appointment dt Edmonton and opted for the cheap parking 6 blocks away. I could not believe how many hi-rises were filled with federal and provincial workers. It was a eye opener.
        Yea I agree the Flames wont use all there own money. The city doesn’t have the population to fill this arena 200 days or more of the year, like many of the American cities with multi sports teams. Add the present economy and the situation looks bleak.Cant see the city giving up much either.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Id like to see this become a source of income for the city. The city could request an equity stake in Calgary Sports and Entertainment (ownership group of the Flames/Stampeders/etc all pro sports in Calgary) in return for the investment funds and red tape hurdling assistance in building a new arena. I would feel much better about spending money going to a Flames game, or buying a jersey, if I knew that part of it was going right back to the community.

    But hey, we live in an era where handouts to corporations is repeatedly supported out of fear they might leave us behind. Who has the power here? So many owners would salivate to have the Calgary market, you wont find better in the N.American market (thats not already taken).

      • dontcryWOLF88

        Im sure they wouldnt. But, do they want funding for an arena?

        There are other options where the city can win. Thats just the one that seems most appealing to me, as a tax payer.

        • McRib

          Keep on dreaming. Best case the City will get a portion of the concessions, parking, etc.

          Not to mention, you also don’t want the City owning the Flames (see Lethbridge Hurricanes last decade), municipal government workers haven’t a clue about running sports franchises.

  • deantheraven

    A new arena would also be a step towards an successful Olympic bid. Keeping the ‘Dome would make it even stronger. It could continue to be a venue for Olympic and amateur hockey and figure skating. The new venue gets the big concerts the ‘Dome can’t handle for its secondary revenue stream.

    • Pyroflatulence

      The IOC will favour a bid that proposes the use of the Saddledome (existing infrastructure). Win the Olympic bid and then seek federal and provincial funds for the arena to be completed before the Olympics.

  • Newbietwo

    Those in the know are aware but I’ll share some insight..

    The stampede board carries so much influence in this city and a lot of the politics are to do with them..

    If we can build the exact same as in Calgary next but at that location I am good with it..

    Don’t see why wanting to split the stadiums up again makes any sense

  • McRib

    This was always Plan A, when we get to see beautiful architectural drawings of this proposal beside the Calgary NEXT projects grainy drawings it will all become clear.

    Glad it is not in the same footprint as a Football stadium, because having to walk around a massive footprint to get to WHL/NHL games would be a major unconvinence to go through for 7-8 CFL Games a year.

    • Albertabeef

      No but a conversion to seat 50,000 to 41 hockey games would be awesome. Basically keeping a retractable field with more seats and ice underneath. That would be awesome :). Then we could demolish McMahon and that whole block to build a new athletic park.

  • Albertabeef

    This makes sense. As the city owns the stampede park and the dome already. Why not build it right next door on already appropriated land. The flames lease the dome already so this is perfect. Calgary does need a covered football stadium. That’s why I was a hockey fan, the games were warmer lol.

    • Keith M

      I grew up on Saskatoon where they built their Arena essentially in Martinsville. Stupidest idea ever, you never build your stadium in the outskirts, always build them downtown.

      • Thumper

        This is a large part of why the Coyotes and Panthers struggle. Both arenas are way out in the suburbs. I went to the Draft in Florida and across the highway from the Panthers’ arena is literally just swampland to the horizon. It’s like a 30 minute drive from central Ft. Lauderdale and probably like 2 hours from Miami if you’re trying to get there in rush hour traffic.

        Seriously, check out the BB&T Centre on streetview.