Have your say on the proposed arena deal

Calgary’s City Council will be voting during Tuesday’s council meeting whether to ratify the tentative deal between the city, the Calgary Flames and the Stampede for a new arena in Victoria Park. They’ve asked for feedback prior to the vote. The deadline for feedback is noon on Friday, so get to it!

Pals, this is a two-step process.

Get informed!

There’s a ton of stuff out there.

The City’s “event centre” site

This primer will give you a high-level summary of things.

The City Manager’s report to city council

This goes into a lot more detail and digs into the minutiae of the deal.

Our analysis of the overall deal

Is it a perfect deal for either side? No.

Both sides probably wish they put in less up-front cash. But an important part for the city was that they would need to share in the benefits of the arena if they were sharing in the risk. They’re 50/50 partners in the up-front risk, but they have their initial investment recouped somewhat over time (just as the Flames do from their revenue from operating the building).

As an addendum to our analysis piece, the city got us the net present value figures for two scenarios: if the proposed surrounding development happens and if it doesn’t:

Our analysis of the lease deal and revenue projections

The proposed lease for the new building is basically the existing Saddledome lease, aside from a slight tweak to the charitable contribution formula. But the really tantalizing thing is the ticket tax. If the Flames run the building as well as they run the Saddledome, in terms of drawing in events, it’s likely that the city’s projections for revenue are pretty feasible. If the Flames can use their shiny new bauble to lure in more events or bigger ticket events, it’s not outlandish to think that the city could actually get more revenue out of this than they’re saying.

Maclean’s columnist Jason Markusoff dug into the forecasts for development around the arena area on his Twitter

Our friend Neil deMause over at Field of Schemes also assessed the deal

Compared to the last Flames arena proposal, which was projected to cost taxpayers at least $1.2 billion, this one does seem to involve lighting less public money on fire. That’s about as much positive as we can say about it, though, and $212.9 million–plus toward a $550 million arena is still an awful lot of money — pretty close in percentage terms, in fact, to the $311 million in public money toward a $676 million arena that Edmonton spent on the Oilers, to much popular consternation. “It could have been worse” is extremely faint praise for any sports venue deal, especially when the median outcome for cities in such deals is “pretty awful.”

Ward 3 councillor Jyoti Gondek had her staff put together a rundown of the literature on non-economic benefit. It’s not exhaustive, but enough to give a snapshot of things not captured in purely economic assessments.

It’s natural to be skeptical of forecasts for future development. The Saddledome cost a pretty penny in the early ’80s and led to very little surrounding development. At council’s meeting on Monday night, mayor Naheed Nenshi summed it up like this:

“Are the non financial benefits of investing in something worth $47 million in today’s dollars?”

If the surrounding development completely fails to materialize and the only thing this investment buys Calgary is a new arena, the cost in today’s dollars is actually $118 million.

Give them your feedback!

The deadline to get your feedback on the public record is Friday at noon. There are a few different ways to get it in.

Submit to the City Clerk:

Written Submissions received by the City Clerk’s Office by Noon, July 26, 2019, will be included in the corporate record and distributed at the July 29 Combined Meeting of Council.

  • Email to: [email protected], or
  • Mail to: Office of the City Clerk, The City of Calgary, 700 Macleod Trail SE, P.O. Box 2100, Postal Station “M”, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2M5; or
  • Fax to: 403-268-2362

Submit to your local Councillor:

Feedback will be gathered by Councillors for their own review ahead of the vote of City Council on July 29, 2019.

Don’t know who your city council representative is? Check out this list of communities here.

Bugging council members on social media potentially won’t be part of the public record, so maybe don’t do that. Stick to e-mails, the online contact form or phone calls.

The rundown

Having less than a week to mull over these details is a bit much. There’s a lot to go over. But if this vote passes, the deal is done. If you feel strongly one way or the other, have your voice heard.

We’ll (obviously) have more on this story as it continues to develop.

  • Justthateasy

    Consider today’s article by Scott Stinson outlining the fact that the Flames got 16 million from the Vegas expansion and will get a further twenty million from the Seattle expansion. The Flames will graciously kick in 1.4 million for demolition of the saddledome. Nice little gesture of a couple of turkey bones thrown the way of the taxpayer.
    I think we can do better.

  • buts

    I don’t know what happened to the entrepreneurial spirit in this city. There seems to be a lot of negative press coming out on the event center. The possibilities of revenues generated in our cities present downturn should outweigh all the naysayers. Consultation after consultation is what killed the TMX for years and all that did was end up driving the price up. What part about zero municipal tax increase do people not get. The conspirators take over and make everyone live in fear because that is what they do. I’m a native Calgarian and I am a definite YES to the event center, unfortunately I’m not confident about next Mondays vote….this is taking an Olympics vote feel to it.

    • piscera.infada

      Consultation after consultation is what killed the TMX for years and all that did was end up driving the price up.

      Without trying to derail this thread. But that should read “consultation that all parties knew they were legally obligated to perform”. Failure of consultations lies squarely upon the NEB (which has been systematically co-opted–with the aid of successive Liberal and Conservative governments–by industry to the point that it can no longer be seen as performing its primary function as a regulator) and Kinder Morgan. Quite simply put, if the parties embark on a project of that magnitude without knowing their legal obligations and/or adhering to those obligations, then the project deserves to fail on its face. That notwithstanding, the FCA was actually surprisingly tame in their criticism of the consultations given the record that was in front of them–although I surmise part of that is owing to the change in ownership in the lead-up to the decision.

    • Garth

      I agree buts! As a born and raised Calgarian I’m tired of all these lefty’s criticizing this deal. This is an opportunity for Calgary to progress our City. I’m tired of the Feds shi__ing on our City and the Eastern press criticizing this deal. Journalists who have never been too Calgary. I say ‘screw off’ to all these critics. No longer should we play second fiddle to Edmonton, Regina, Hamilton. Let’s get this built!

  • Skylardog

    Strange to have a vote to cut $60 Million from the city budget, then discuss an investment of almost $300 for an arena and complex.

    But the key here is the word investment.

    The city needs to manage expenses, thus the cuts. At a time when people and businesses are struggling, we need to cut expenses. Just like in my household, you have to make do with what you have, or cut back on some things. Maybe it means hamburgers instead of steak.

    But the goal in my household should still be to invest in my savings, or buy a house instead of paying for rent. Those investments will pay dividends in the future. Eating a steak is irrelevant.

    An arena is an investment in the community. It is a meeting place for all Calgarians. Concerts, business gatherings, rallies, sports, and God forbid, civil emergencies. It is a place for Calgarians no matter what the circumstance.

    The events will support the community by bringing in revenue from far beyond Calgary’s borders. Those events will help support and grow the businesses in the city, helping to make the tax base healthier.

    For those that say they will not use the new building, choosing to not use the facility is irrelevant. I will never go to the new library, yet it is still important. Pools, sports complexes, art buildings, the zoo, they are all critical to the overall pride we have as Calgarians.

      • Budgie

        The Calgary Flames are part of the pride in Calgary you speak to, and as Canadians pride in Hockey itself. Non-sports fans may have issues with spending Tax-payer money on a ‘Hockey Arena’, that is why it is important to make it a multi-use building. Events, Conferences, and Exhibits and use during the Stampede are essential. That being said I also hope strain on the Tax-payers are minimized by the multi-use of the facility to bring revenue into the City-Tourism, and Investment importantly.

        Those things considered, is the only option to Tear Down the not so old SaddleDome? What about the Corral? Big 4 building, all older structures. Wouldn’t it be wiser to take down the Corral than demolish the SaddleDome? Sentiments aside, I love the Corral, but reality, I love the SaddleDome-1988 Olympics-a Stanley Cup, and it is newer.

        P.S.-I don’t think the Calgary Zoo is a matter of pride-its a bit rough, and cruel to the ‘inmates’.

        • Skylardog

          I believe the estimated lifespan on the Saddledome roof has actually been passed and in the future will become unsafe. The only option is a tear down. Redoing the roof would be excessively expensive.

  • Widemans Anger

    It’s a no brainer here $275 Million divided by 35 years = $7.8 million a year for an NHL team and World class events. The Flames owners get to keep marking money and the City gets to get huge value out of tax dollars. I have seen the “boom” and the ice district in Edmonton this is gonna back to use in tax dollars, construction jobs and commerce. I have seen my tax dollars go to worse things so for me this is win for all Calgarians! Respect to Nenshi for making sure tax payers get the “best possible deal” not a raw deal like Edmonton. (Ps – No one in Edmonton regrets their spending on the arena.)

    • Jobu

      Bennett’s arb hearing coming up quick! Tick Tock, Tick Tock.

      Also can you believe the Leafs? Going to wait until season starts before signing Marner so they can put their dead weight on the LTIR and free up almost 10 million. well played Mr. Dubas. You’re not as much of an idiot as Jobu originally assumed.

      • Derzie

        Dubas is quietly schooling the league on how to get the max out of the rulebook. It helps to have owners with deep pockets but every move Dubas makes is unique and positive. As a Flames fan I’m jealous. Tre is getting left behind. Of the Canadian GMs, Tre was 1 or 2. Edmonton, Winnipeg & Toronto GMs are better. Possibly Montreal as well.

        • withachance

          Huge recency bias here… Dont let what’s happened the last month erase the entire resume of these GMs.

          Dubas signed Nylander to a pretty egregious contract hamstringing literally the entire league a year later. He wouldnt have had to pay someone to take Marleau, lose a top 4 dman and trade his best valued contract in Kadri if he didnt sign Nylander to a stupid contract.

          Bergevin traded Subban for Weber, signed price to a contract that will look bad long term, and a top 4 dman for Drouin. Starting to redeem himself with the Tatar and Domi trades.

          Holland lol. Abdelkader, Nielsen, goalie situations… Still a legend for his drafting and team building though.

          Chevy has been great, but also handcuffed by RFAs this year.

          BT helped change this team from rebuilding to a borderline contender. Had some bad UFA signings, but his contract negotiations and trades to upgrade the roster has been pretty decent imo

          • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

            From a Flames fans prospective the best thing Dubas has done this offseason is bring in Cody Ceci, who is the absolute biggest turnover machine in the NHL and I absolutely can’t wait for the spotlight of Leafs fans and the crazed media to go nuts when he starts doing boneheaded things defensively. You think Jake Gardiner did some baffling things, just wait and see Leafs fans!!!

            The Tyson Barrie was extremely good value for Dubas, so Ceci is just going to
            be worth a laugh on the third pair after Dermott comes back, but it’s going to be glorious.

      • Skylardog

        I told you a month ago they were getting Marner done using LTIR with Horton, but they have now eaten into the room and may have to use Clarkson as well. Dubas is at 25 signed players on the roster and over by $2.16M according to Hockeybuzz. He still needs to make a move or 2 to get it done without using Clarkson and Horton, which would leave him at max cap pretty much every night I believe. They also will fall short if something else is not done.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Have your say means lip service to Calgary’s municipal government. I don’t mean just the current admin but going back to the days of Boss Duerr, for it was at that time I proposed the city erect a Terry Fox statue. Duerr and my alderman loved the idea, but nothing came of it. Same proposal was made to my alderman and Bronc. They too loved it but gave me a useless trainline instead of a Fox tribute. Polite indifference is how I would describe the response from the Nenshi admin to the idea of a Fox on the run statue. I think it is safe to say that city welcomes your input all the time but will act on it only if it aligns with what the city already intends to do.

      • Albertabeef

        No but the politicians should respect the public’s majority “Yes” or “No” vote. Unlike Vancouver who had a “NO” vote for a “Broadway train line” and they were going ahead with it last time I looked.

    • Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis

      “They too loved it but gave me a useless trainline instead”

      Huh!?!?! I hope someone isn’t implying that the LRT line is useless…. was that a weird freight rail line or something that was never used? I ride the LRT everyday and you can barley get on the train it’s so packed with people everyday…. I make good money and have a nice car, but when a monthly train pass is 1/4 of parking downtown and the stress of the commute is all but eliminated by taking a train, I’m going to do that all day everyday.

      • Albertabeef

        I remember being a small kid and being upset that they took out most of Stampede Park’s west log fort wall during LRT construction. 30 years of LRT use and I really don’t have much issue with them. Except the need for public washrooms at the stations lol.

  • Derzie

    Here’s the breakdown (out of 100) of what ‘have your say’ means:

    Business Leaders 50 votes
    City Council 45 Votes
    Public 5 votes
    You 0.0000041 votes (5 divided by 1.2 million)

    If it makes you feel good, have at it. But it’s really a ‘venting period’.

  • Off the wall

    I remember when I lived in Calgary. I considered it a World Class City. Still do.

    It’s been a difficult time for a lot of Calgarian’s. I have 3 brothers still living there and I know from their experience that they both had to really tighten their belts the last few years. My brother had a Consulting Engineering Company, that handled the drafting and engineering proposal’s for medium sized business’s in the Oil Sector. When his lease came up, he couldn’t afford to pay the high lease and keep all his staff.
    He tried to negotiate the leasehold, but to no avail.

    He ended up selling off his Company to his partner at a fraction of the value. Now he’s back working in the industry, as a Contractor, however the years, time and goodwill he put into the business has evaporated. My other younger brother was out of work for 2 years, with a family to feed and few job prospects, even though he had several degrees. They had to sell their house, move in with his wife’s family until they could get back on their feet.

    It’s never going to be easy, when you’re reliant on Oil/ Gas Sector to pump the economy.

    I know for many if you, the idea of public money just feels wrong, considering the economy and lifestyle changes many of you experienced. Two of my brothers are big Flames’ fans ( I might be responsible for that) and through all of this they still support the New Arena deal. I know it’s complex and I’m not going to get into the politics of it.

    God bless them. They have always been generous to a fault and I’m happy to be called their older brother!

  • BlueMoonNigel

    -223 city positions (which include vacant jobs and retirements) will be cut.
    -115 city employees will lose their jobs.
    -80,000 fewer Calgary Transit service hours, which means reduced frequency of buses and CTrains.
    -Lower disaster preparedness at the emergency management agency.
    -52 fewer affordable homes (13 per cent of the housing incentive program) will be funded.
    -Zero community recreation programming at some locations.
    -Four fewer medical response units and one rescue unit on the fire department’s frontlines, which means reduced service for critical medical interventions and emergency responses citywide, and increased response times.

    Council votes almost unanimously for these $60M cuts to spending at they prepare to give thumbs up to the new arena. It’s funny how virtually all these cuts are unlikely to have an impact on anybody who is a season ticket holder.

    • buts

      BMN all the city would have to to do is have the mayor, council and all city hall management with their fat six figure salaries and juicy severance packages take a 2% wage cut and that would be it with no cuts needed.

    • Albertabeef

      Let be a little realistic too, the City has been down scaling their workforce for years. My Dad was a casualty of downsizing twice with the City of Calgary in the 38 years he worked there. The first time he retrained for a different position, the second time he got the golden handshake in 1999.