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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The clock is ticking on a pre-election arena deal

If there’s one thing that Calgary’s city council would love to stop hearing about or talking about as much as they have over the past few years, it’s plans for a new home for the Calgary Flames. Discussion surrounding CalgaryNEXT and its seeming successor, the Victoria Park Plan B project, have dragged on since August 2015. Unless a deal is agreed to by both sides and approved by council in the final meetings before the upcoming civic election, the negotiations will probably drag on even further – probably into early 2018, at least.

Any arena deal that involves public financing of an arena – either directly or through some manner of financing scheme – would need to get council approval to move ahead. Generally speaking, that would require two meetings’ worth of time: an initial meeting to unveil the scheme and explain everything behind it (and allow for debate in council), followed by a period of public feedback and then a second meeting to actually approve everything.

An arena deal is not on the agenda for today’s council meeting. There are two meetings left: July 31 and Sept. 11. Based on our understanding of how council usually operates, if an arena deal’s not on the July 31 agenda then it won’t get completed prior to the Oct. 16 election. A handful of council members aren’t running again, while all 15 seats on council (including mayor) are up for re-election. It’s possible that a very different-looking group could convene in the fall to revisit this issue and need to re-familiarize themselves with the issue – probably pushing a decision date into 2018.

It’s also possible that the deal could be finished by then, but the clock is definitely ticking on that possibility.

  • nikkomsgb

    Everything is screwy with this process.

    There has been no mention of it in weeks, beyond Nenshi saying there is no rush. Even more strange is the fact that the CMLC’s long awaited Victoria Park master plan was due in June, and now their website says this isn’t being made public until the fall. Coupled with the a decision on an olympic bid being pushed into next year and the debt limit hitting 65% of council’s allowance on the Green Line and I am starting to wonder how they will ever get this together.

    At this point it is all a nothing burger.

  • Mr. J

    What a joke of a franchise. No support from the mayor. No support from majority of calgarians. No wonder Jonny wants out already. Sad days ahead in Calgary.

  • class1div1

    It will take a small miracle to get this thing done.Flames,City,Stampede board,and NHL are all adamant about getting there way.All 4 groups are run by narcissistic dbags.

    • L.Kolkind

      Haven’t seen a comment section like this since before Train97 left. Mr J you may be new to these parts, but trolls on Flamesnation do have a history of being dealt with. If you want to talk hockey or in this case, rinks that’s fair game, but trolling and needlessly trashing the Flames is not tolerated.

  • Fan the Flames

    The Arena is a political hot potato for Nenchi to move on this prior to the election would be political suicide to act now so nothing will happen until after the election . Everyone knows there will be an Arena deal and taxpayers will have some skin in the game . There have been taxpayer dollars on projects with very low return to the city and the Arena project has significant returns in the form of revenue pouring in and employment .

    • Parallex

      “the Arena project has significant returns in the form of revenue pouring in and employment”

      No, it really doesn’t. Arena’s don’t really create much revenue they simply shift it from one location to another, likewise building one (on principally the taxpayers dime) would only shift employment from one city infrastructure project to another.

      • Rockmorton65

        I’m not sure. Right now, big band concerts/sporting events are passing us over due to inadequate facilities. If they DID play here, it’d be considered increased revenue.

      • One city infrastructure project to another one which benefits solely 1% of Calgarians. That is Clay Ridell, Murray Edwards (not even an Canadian anymore let alone an albertan or Calgarian seeing as he moved to England to avoid taxes, and the rest of the co ownership). A few NHL players, coaches and managers. That the extent of who the city paying for an arena benefits. It certainly doesn’t benefit me at 12$ a beer and 45$ a nosebleed seat 20$ for parking and hey if you want to eat something there’s easily another 20$ bill out of your bank account.

    • Kevin R

      You are right that this is a hot potato for Nenshi & he’s already urinated in enough bowls of cornflakes that he doesn’t need to alienate anymore registered voters over an Arena deal that it doesn’t matter which way he goes, is going to cost him votes. I just hope the next Mayor is a Flames fan.

      • Parallex

        The only thing you should hope for is that the next mayor (whomever and whenever it may be) is a fan of sound urban planning (y’know… like our current mayor).

        • class1div1

          It would also be nice to have a mayor that gets along with others, after all he signed up for a job that involves a lot of teamwork.Its not all about him.

          • piscera.infada

            Nenshi “doesn’t get along well with others”? Here’s a quote from a CBC article shortly after Burke suggested the team would move [here]:

            “This is me kind of shrugging,” he said when asked for a reaction. “This is page 26 of the script. It’s always page 26 of the script in every city, and my job now is, I’m supposed to go to page 27 and 28 in the script when I point out that Rogers has given them billions of dollars and they’re not going to let them remove a team from a western Canadian market, that in order for them to go to Quebec, they’ll have to sell the team to Pierre Karl Peladeau, and he’s not going to give them a deal the way they’re going to get in Calgary, blah, blah, blah. I’m not interested in doing that.”

            Nenshi knows exactly what’s going on here. It plays out this way virtually every damn time. So I fail to see how refusing to tuck tail the moment they get to “page 26 of the script” (or whatever page we’re on now) is somehow a weakness of his.

          • class1div1

            You’re kidding i hope Piscera.Nenshi is just as belligerent as Burke.I guess you wouldn’t know that if you just read the unbiased and always truthful news that is generated by the CBC.

          • piscera.infada

            I’m not sure how a direct quote is “biased” by the CBC (whatever you want to claim about the quality of their journalism, notwithstanding–and as an aside: please, spare me the Trumpian “fake news” garbage). If you want to have a legitimate conversation about the way Nenshi has handled other issues. Sure, we can have that discussion. However, with regards to the arena “debate”, he’s been consistently pragmatic.

            As I said in my above post. This is literally the exact same thing that happens in basically every arena negotiation. What more do you want him to say? Platitudes and niceties about how gracious King and Burke are with their time? This, and everything leading up to it (and likely going forward), is posturing by CSEC trying to flip a majority public opinion battle that they’ve been losing since the CalgaryNEXT was unveiled. In my mind, it’s kind of refreshing to hear Nenshi actually call a spade “a spade”.

            Just because other mayors and city councils have bent over backwards the second a “maybe we don’t need to play here…” is uttered, is not a failing of anyone other than the individuals lobbing such thinly veiled threats–and don’t even get me started on the “we’re not threatening” threat.

          • piscera.infada

            Apologies (I hate lengthy replies on a phone). That last paragraph should read:

            “Just because other mayors and city councils have bent over backwards the second a “maybe we don’t need to play here…” is uttered, does not mean this city should follow suit. The reluctance of Nenshi and Council to be baited into such action is not a failing of anyone other than the individuals lobbing such thinly veiled threats…”.

          • class1div1

            Nenshi did call a spade a spade.but he did it with a generous amount of meanness and a healthy piss-off .He reminds me of the 2 students standing nose to nose in the political science foyer at the university arguing about how left left should be.They love the fight and want everyone to know it.You may find that refreshing,and i find it confrontational and annoying.In the end all 4 parties will have to will to give up something and find a middle ground,Taxpayers should not be asked to cover the majority of cost.I thought KK rebuked what Burke said and claimed he was wrong for saying it.Anyway these 4 working together have shown many just how dysfunctional they are AS A GROUP and Nenshi is not an exception IMO.

          • Whenever anyone is talking about giving half a billion dollars of my hard earned money away to minority of people who benefit you better damn well believe I want them (city council or my voice) to be confrontational about it. If I came to you and said. hey Class1Div1 I got a billion dollar idea for a business and I need you to give me 500k in startup capital for 0% equity, so I can start my business are you just going to nicely and politely say… yes, or no sorry I can’t do that? A smart investor is going to investigate the idea and see if its worth his or her time number 1. After which, either a. you’re going to say sure okay I’ll give you that start up capital but I want 90% of the share of the company which we’d negotiate down to 65 or 75% equity or b. you’d laugh in my face and tell me to get bent (you can imagine the expletives you’d use for yourself). It’s not going to be a nice pleasant conversation. Nor should it be. Especially if I was posturing and threatening to take my business and potential tax dollars elsewhere and go to the next dumb idiot willing to hold his cash bag out to me.

        • Newbietwo

          Not that this is the place for politics but you speak of these words like urban development.. the original arena deal not urban development? As one who has co chaired on a board I am aware of what he originally ran on and both his good and his bad.. And that that job and juggling will be hard for virtually anyone..

          He originally ran on urban development but building and development owners will tell you it’s hell to get a permit for anything under him.. while I agree with his theory that we are more sprawled than NY and it’s not cost sustainable to keep influxing new water drainage systems and developments the flip side is where has the progress been on spreading downtown? East Village started before his term.. we still have the same problems and as much as folks would love to gather and live more downtown you still are left with a ghost town after 8pm on a Friday.. do we have swimming pools, fancy things to do downtown? Do we have the same roads in general terms? Have surrounding neighbourhoods seen any new projects or facilities?

          Let’s be honest here that there is a gap here and now it’s a much larger and significant gap as we have 50 plus percent vacancy rates downtown.. He’s not business friendly either.. he is however good with social issues.. even so some push back is granted and very much justified

  • Puckhead

    It is summertime and nothing will happen at this time of year. A new arena will get built and time is on our side. I’d rather it take time and get done in a responsible and thoughtful manner as opposed to getting shafted as a taxpayer.

    Keep in mind that Murray Edwards is also involved. He is a shrewd SOB so don’t expect a deal to be a walk in the park.

    • class1div1

      Are you sure? Ryan did a piece a while back that indicated that upkeep and maintenance budgets had been slashed on the Dome.Is the ice-plant in good working order?

  • Parallex

    Yeah, I don’t see any need for urgency here. What difference does it make if it’s the last bit of business for the current council or the first bit of business for the next?

  • Flames fan since 83

    I am currently a season ticket holder and enjoy seeing games in person.
    I would love a new building, but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to afford a 60% rise in my season ticket price. (In Edmonton, average ticket prices went up 60% – 118%).
    See link: https://www.coppernblue.com/2015/7/28/9057561/oilers-rogers-place-ticket-prices-rexall-place

    I’m starting to think concession and bathroom lines are a bit more tolerable given the additional cost of a building. And my cost of a ticket.

    • Mr. J

      Supply and demand my friend. If ticket prices went up in EDM you’d never know by the packed house every night. Heck ppl paid big money to stand outside the arena during the playoffs. Maybe if Calgary could get that kind of support, the new arena would be built by now.

      • Flames fan since 83

        Calgary was 10 in average attendance last season.
        Edmonton was 12th. So, your not exactly killing it.

        But listen, if you are ok with paying double what we pay, then by all means.
        We (Calgary) will get a deal done, but it’s going to be fair to everyone. We refuse to be like Edmonton fan, and bend over to get taken advantage of….

      • Kevin R

        Time to head back to Oil Nation. Flames building was pretty packed during the playoffs too. But I guess it’s such a novelty to be in the playoffs up there in Edmonpuke.

      • Flames fan since 83

        Calgary was 10 in average attendance last season.
        Edmonton was 12th. So, your not exactly killing it.

        But listen, if you are ok with paying double what we pay, then by all means.
        We (Calgary) will get a deal done, but it’s going to be fair to everyone. We refuse to be like Edmonton fan, and bend over to get taken advantage…

      • McRib

        “Maybe if Calgary could get that kind of support”

        LMAO, Calgary finishes ahead of Edmonton every year in attendance. I’ll tell you one thing when we get a new arena, I can gurentee you our capacity will be larger than Rodgers Arenas 18,630. Our average attendance has been over 19,200 since the lockout and we have had substantially more fans than the Oilers every year since 2004-05.

        • Mr. J

          Rexall place capacity – 16,900
          Saddledump- 19,000

          Hmmm I wonder how Calgary finished ahead of us in attendance for so many years LMAO even an 8 yr old could figure that one out. Make sure you tell Nenshi you want a 20,000 seat arena lmao pls do. Even if it gets built Little Jonny will already be at home in Philly. Ouch lol Or maybe by the time it’s built Benny will be able to complete a chin up.

      • Derzie

        It’s not supply and demand but rather the bigger dummy theory. Raise the prices and there’s always a bigger dummy waiting to throw away hundreds on an event that’s free in their living room.

    • Southboy

      As a Flame fan in Edmonton, and with 2 good buddies with season tickets i can say this is false. ONE has 4th row behind the Oilers net, and the other has 10th row centre ice. There prices have gone up 12% and 14% respectably. The 60-120% in that article was skewed for the ‘corporote’ and ‘sportsnet’ seating, which took a larger increase, but were well below league average in their okd POS barn.

      • Flames fan since 83

        Thanks Southboy for the constructive input.
        I really hope this is true, because it’s one of the main issues for me.
        This article is written from an Edmonton source. So it seems credible.
        Cheers,

        • Southboy

          I dont disagree with the entirety of the article, only that it is skewed by other factors. I have seen and bought tickets off both friends for years and can say that is the case.

  • Stu Cazz

    Typically with a project of this nature the Mayor of the City is the project Champion. Nenshi is NOT a sports fan and refuses to lead this as other Mayor’s of major city’s have in the past as they recognize the spin-off benefits of an entertainment facility. This does not mean taxpayer dollars for rich billionaires but my point is it lacks support from the most influential city representative. Calgary is currently an embarrassment in comparison with other structures existing in elsewhere in Canada and North America! I don’t like where this is going…..

    • Mr. J

      I agree Calgary is an embarrassment to other cities and the way it’s run. Does anyone think Gaudreau or anyone will want to play in the most outdated rink in the entire NHL.

      • Kevin R

        Cmon buddy, get some new material. Gaudreau, Monahan, Hamilton, Hamonic, Stone, Backlund,& so on know they will get their paycheque regardless if they play in the Dome or a new building. It’s not like they play in half empty building like in Florida or Arizona.

      • We are the destination for talented young players (Foo), trade destinations (Hamonic), for players who want to win in a passionate city that doesn’t have the spotlight of Edmonton, Montreal or Toronto. All the benefits of a Canadian market without the bulls— and idiots typical of a Canadian market.

        And unlike the ‘Peg, Vancouver and Edmonton, players actually want to live in Calgary because, you know, it isn’t a sh—y, crime-ridden place to live.

        IMO.

      • Newbietwo

        Tell you what juice.. I’m gonna go out with my very hot mrs and you can keep sitting and commenting here in your size 46 coveralls and your nachos with fake cheese..

  • The GREAT WW

    Why don’t the resident Oiler trolls do something worthwhile and educate us on all the mistakes that were made in the Oilers new barn so we don’t repeat them.
    I’ll start; not enough bathrooms…

    WW

      • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

        You’ve never been there Walter! Sad news though. Kenny Shields from Street heart died. Guess Streetheart won’t be rocking the saddle dome anymore, but you can always watch Trooper and Chilliwack in the Saddle dump💩

      • Mr. J

        I’ve never had trouble parking. Food choices are amazing so not sure what your talking about. Lose weight if you can’t fit in a normal size seat. Playoffs had washroom problems cause everyone used them at the same time during intermission. Not one person would leave there seat early such is the case during regular season. Rogers has already rectified that situation anyways, i would of thought you knew that already.
        Now let’s talk ticket prices…. Hmmm I wonder how many ppl would pay that kind of money to watch Mcdavid on a nightly basis for the next decade?!?!! Oh that’s right every hockey market!! Lol hahahahaha. You get what you pay for. You guys pay to watch a guy named Johnny (who wants out of town) and we pay to watch the amazing talents of a top tier goalie, two of the top 10 scorers in the league and the newest version of the bad news bears( Luc, nurse, maroon, Kassian).
        Don’t worry about our ticket prices. We know what we’re paying for. The top rink in North America with a great roster. You guys pay boring Sean and little janny and continue to play in the saddle dump. I can feel another sweep coming on this year :)!

        • Southboy

          As a Flame fan in Edmonton, and with 2 good buddies with season tickets i can say this is false. ONE has 4th row behind the Oilers net, and the other has 10th row centre ice. There prices have gone up 12% and 14% respectably. The 60-120% in that article was skewed for the ‘corporote’ and ‘sportsnet’ seating, which took a larger increase, but were well below league average in their okd POS barn.

  • Puckhead

    The new versus old arena is a ridiculous argument. The game is played on the ice, the Dome is fine, and people are making money. If our boys bring home the Cup I could care less if they were playing on an outside rink.

      • Puckhead

        Correction Stu. I have been to many games at both venues. I go to watch the game and could care less about the fluffy stuff around me. Maybe you should try focusing on the game next time.

        I’m also one of a minority of people who believe that all levels of government are living beyond their means and we’re screwing over future generations with a ballooning debt burden. My apologies if I don’t need fancy new venues to enjoy sporting events.

        • Stu Cazz

          Fair enough Puckhead. But just answer me this…have you ever sat in the crapper at McMahon during a cold play-off game? Seriously…Calgary deserves more than being out done by major huge metropolitan centres like Edmonton, Regina, Hamilton….

          • Puckhead

            You got me there. My system has been flushed out long before kickoff. McMahon is a different beast though because I believe it is owned and operated by the U of C, no? My understanding is that this ticks off the Ownership Group and they would rather have a facility that is not run by the U of C to increase revenues. Now I don’t understand the financials of the CFL but how the hell do they make money with so few games in a season?

          • Stu Cazz

            The Saddledome is not efficient and just as bad as McMahon. Unable to handle large concerts, performances & related venues. The oldest facility in the NHL. The league is evolving and capturing optimal revenue opportunity is important for all viable franchises. The impact on the Flames and the City will be felt…

          • The GREAT WW

            The only time I used the “crapper” at McMahon was for privacy to pour my Mickey into those huge Coke containers they sell there. And they work fine for that…..

            WW

  • BendingCorners

    There’s no rush. The team can’t leave for a while yet, and would probably have to be sold to Quebecor to do so. Since it makes a decent return for the owners there isn’t much reason for them to sell, even without a new building. They can stay competitive by raising ticket prices for many years yet.
    As to timing, there quite possibly won’t be any hockey played in the NHL from June 2020 to January 2022. The NHL and NHLPA have a history of going to the mat and this time the players are preparing by structuring their contracts to include large signing bonuses during the anticipated lockout.
    Let’s wait till we’ve done without hockey for 18 months and see how it goes. Maybe we will miss hockey so much that we build them a new home; maybe we don’t notice that they’re gone.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    The Saddle Dome has been great over the years for hockey and I was never dissappointed with the building itself saw some great games in it but it is definitely time for a new building not just for the Flames but for Calgary. Two great buildings in Alberta in two great cities would be sweet. Politics are part of the process but so is the voice of Calgarians we need this new building and you don’t have to be a Flames fan to see that.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    If you listened to what councillors said yesterday about why they nixed approving an Olympic plebiscite in this fall’s election, the same argument applies to a new arena in that they decreed a lack of sound information and the absence of hard numbers to make an informed choice. Funny, but councillors often vote on a pig in a poke, so why they chose to kill the Olympic plebiscite makes the mind wonder.

    Current councillors are paralyzed with the fear of losing their jobs for any of them individually or collectively champion a new arena for the Flames and stadium for the Stamps. It is not a matter to be dealt with until after the election when the new council will be filled with the courage to get these deals done likely within a year for both. Believe me, the rate payers will get it between the eyes and up the ying yang as the city ends up financing the lion’s share of these projects. That is why they are delaying unleashing the frozen boot until after the election.

    • freethe flames

      Then during the campaign they need to be asked directly where they stand and then the voters can decide. I put a lot of this issue on KK and the Calgarynext project which angered many in Calgary and then BB “we will just move” comments.

    • Derzie

      People say they want prudent government that spends money like it belongs to the people yet when they do, the complaining starts. The Olympics and a new building are not something any sane person would invest in expecting to make money. Governments invest in those things mostly for optics and politics. To grease some palms or to garner votes in an upcoming election. The sober behaviour of the Calgary council appeals to logic but not to popularity. The masses want flash and fireworks. Shiny things to keep them entertained. This council will hold the line. The election will replace them with a more circus-clown-ish mayor and all will be right with the world for the elite and their minions. The sober middle class will once again take a back a seat and the precious arena will be built and billions will be tossed at at Olympics. No one will see the cuts to poor-people programs to pay for it but hey, every man for himself right? Yeah right. Enjoy your new rink. There’ll be a few more homeless people on the train on the way there but a small price to pay for being entertained in a newer building. Same game, new digs. Worth every penny.

      • class1div1

        I agree with your big picture,but you might want to mention the Flames that donate time and money to help the poor and homeless.Its not nothing,an fact its quite the opposite.

        • freethe flames

          Most of the money they donate comes via fundraising not from their bottom line. Just like when you go through the Walmart line and you donate money to what ever cause they are pushing they get the credit(tax break too I assume) but you have paid for it. I give my donations directly to the charities of my choice and I get both the credit and the tax receipt.

          Here’s the issue for me a humble tax payer; I know we could use the new facilities and I am even okay with the tax payers putting money up front for them but there needs to be a clear plan in place that allows the taxpayers to get revenue back and not to be held ransom to the next new demand. There needs to be a plan for repairs and the eventual replacement of these facilities.

    • piscera.infada

      It’s not “biased” though, they use peer reviewed, objective fact. Those facts are based of numerous case studies, all of which saw the exact same claims that are made in this case, all of which have a preponderance of evidence that those claims were at the very least overstated, and all of which were known to be overstated (or worse, objectively false).

  • Squishin

    I’m as big a Flames fan as anyone, but using taxpayer money for a new rink is simply wrong. Many people cannot afford to go to games, and many aren’t interested in hockey. Therefore, that’s a lot of people who will never see the inside of this venue. Unless there is some sound investment logic (ie. the city will reap some measurable benefit), then I don’t agree with taxpayers shelling out for a new arena.

  • Connor'sGotHart,Ross,Lindsay!

    I’m going in September to watch UFC 215 in Edmonton. Anyone want to make the drive up to Rogers to watch it?
    Chances are the UFC and many other events are not coming back to Calgary until you get a new building.