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Council approves arena deal, Flames will have new home by 2024

Ladies and gentlemen, the Calgary Flames will be moving to a new home… about 500 meters north of the Scotiabank Saddledome. City council has voted to ratify the tentative deal between the Flames, the city and the Calgary Stampede to construct a new arena in Victoria Park.

Following a presentation by the negotiating team and several hours of debate, the vote on council was 11-4 in favour of ratifying the deal:

  • For (11): Naheed Nenshi, Ward Sutherland, Joe Magliocca, Jyoti Gondek, Sean Chu, Jeff Davison, Gian-Carlo Carra, Ray Jones, Shane Keating, Diane Colley-Urquhart and Peter Demong
  • Against (4): George Chahal, Druh Farrell, Evan Woolley and Jeromy Farkas

As previously discussed at length, the deal will see the Flames and the city each pay for half of a $550 million facility – $275 million for each side. The city will be paid back an estimated $155.1 million via their cut of the facility’s revenues and $2.5 million from their piece of the building’s naming rights, while the Flames would be locked into a 35-year lease and committed through that agreement to provide community sports organizations with $75 million in funding over that period (similar to their current lease with the Saddledome Foundation). The Flames will contribute 10% of the costs of demolition of the ‘Dome, up to a maximum of $1.5 million, and will have the option to purchase some nearby city land prior to the opening of the new arena.

The deal was ratified just eight days after tentative deal was announced, four months after this round of negotiations began formally, 14 months after the Event Centre Assessment Committee was formed, and roughly 14 years after the whole process of replacing the Saddledome began.

The arena is set to be built two blocks north of the Saddledome, on two blocks located between Olympic Way and 5th Street SE and 12th and 14th Avenue SE that are currently used as Stampede parking lots. It continues a lengthy tradition of the city’s primary arena being located in Victoria Park – following Victoria Arena (opened prior to World War I), the Stampede Corral (opened in 1950) and the Saddledome (opened in 1983).

Along with expansion of BMO Centre, the arena (or “event centre” in city hall’s verbiage) is considered a big part of the development of a cultural and entertainment district in East Victoria Park. Development of the arena and the district as a whole will be managed by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

Contracts, design and consultations will be undertaken for the next while. A Spring 2021 ground-breaking is probable, with the building opening for operation prior to the 2024-25 season. We’ll have more details on timelines, mock-ups, designs and number of washrooms as they become available.