Our friends working the city hall beat are conducting their year-end interviews with local politicians to close out 2018. 660 News’ chat with Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi included some optimism from Calgary’s city hall head honcho that an arena deal might be on the horizon in 2019.
— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) December 27, 2018
“Let’s bring the best minds in the world to bear on this question in a very open way, and let’s see if there is a deal there… If there is a deal there that makes sense for Calgarians, I would be happy to champion that.”
Nenshi and Calgary Flames executive Ken King famously clashed in public over aspects of the arena negotiations in the run-up to the 2017 municipal election. Since then the City has put together a committee to explore the viability and importance of an arena (or “event centre”) in the Victoria Park area, chaired by Ward Six councilor Jeff Davison.
Along with the long-awaited expansion of the BMO Centre and a few infrastructure tie-ins, the proposed $600 million arena – located at the corner of 12th Avenue and Olympic Way, a couple blocks north of the Scotiabank Saddledome – is a big piece of the City’s redevelopment of the Victoria Park area. The key piece of the puzzle is what the economic impact of the arena would be on the development and what funds the City would have available to invest in such an undertaking.
Davison confirmed that the Flames and City Hall are now discussing the arena again, though talks will remain “big picture” until a Jan. 28 meeting determines how much financial skin the City is able to put in the game. At the same meeting, the results of an economic impact study conducted by Ernst and Young are expected to be presented. At that point, it would be reasonable to predict that talks between the Flames and city hall will become a bit more material in nature.