Calgary Flames arena negotiations continue to inch along at City Hall

Ryan Pike
1 year ago
In March 2022, Calgary’s city council voted to (re-)create the Event Centre Committee to progress work on a new event centre – or arena, for folks not fluent in City Hall verbiage. On Friday, roughly a year after being created, the committee met to provide an update to members of council.
Following the meeting, committee chair Sonya Sharp was asked the big question by members of the media: Is there a deal? (No. Not yet.)
“At this time progress work is going really well,” said Sharp. “It was an opportunity for the committee to get an update from our third party, our deal structure advisors. A lot of members of council did come to the meeting today so they could get up to speed on what’s going on.”
Representatives of CAA ICON, the city’s designated negotiators in their discussions with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), were on hand both at February’s meeting and on Friday. They provided a update to council members and discussed progress in a closed portion of the meeting for about two and a half hours.
“I wanted folks to really get to the point where they understood where we were in the process,” said Sharp. “And today happened to be a day where most people were available, so we had that meeting.”
Sharp reiterated the comments that National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman offered when he visited Calgary at the end of February: things are progressing and everyone is speaking the same language.
“I would say that I am absolutely thrilled where we’re at,” said Sharp.
If you’re the type to compare this negotiation process to the one that resulted in the previous deal, here’s some rough benchmarks:
  • The first Event Centre Assessment Committee meeting was in June 2018.
  • The city voted to re-engage in broad, informal arena talks with the Flames in October 2018 – talking about the possibility they could do something together perhaps.
  • The city voted to engage more intensively with the Flames on formal arena talks in March 2019.
  • The tentative deal was announced in July 2019, about four months after formal negotiations began.
The current Event Centre Committee had its first meeting in April 2022. The city and the Flames re-engaged on formal arena talks in October 2022, with the city being represented by CAA ICON. Formal negotiations have been ongoing for about four or five months.
Obviously there are different complexities than existed during the 2019 negotiations – there was a pandemic, for example – and the timelines for how things progress might not be exactly the same now as in 2019, but things seem to be chugging along and the parties who are able to speak (right now, just Sharp and Bettman) seem upbeat about how things are progressing.
You never know, before too long they may progress to the point where a deal could emerge.

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