Does Calgary’s arena deal depend on the provincial election result?

Ryan Pike
1 year ago
In the final week of April, the Calgary Flames, City of Calgary, Province of Alberta and Calgary Stampede announced that they had come together on a new Calgary arena deal. But the provincial component of the deal – $330 million of a $1.223 billion overall price tag which included pricey road upgrades in the area – won’t be locked in until after Alberta’s provincial election.
With advance polls having opened on Tuesday morning, and the general election day approaching on May 29, does Calgary’s arena deal depend on the current government being re-elected?
Based on what both parties have said on the campaign trail, a change in government probably doesn’t kill the deal.
The provincial funds for the arena deal weren’t in the provincial budget presented in February 2023, and so they would need to go through the provincial treasury’s approval process in order to be cemented. That won’t happen until August, no matter which party is in power.
Now obviously since Alberta premier Danielle Smith pledged the money, if the United Conservative Party is re-elected, those funds would be included in the mid-year budget update and be submitted to the treasury. (The funds are also included in the party’s campaign platform budget.)
Alberta New Democrat leader Rachel Notley has been consistently critical of portions of the deal – she initially claimed that some parts weren’t publicized, then walked that stance back slightly when more information was released by the City – and she’s maintained that she’ll review the terms of the deal if she becomes premier.
But when given all kinds of opportunities to give a firm thumbs-down to the deal and potentially earn political points with those voters that are fully opposed to public funds being used to build pro sports facilities, she’s avoided doing so.
In fact, guess what’s included in the NDP’s campaign platform budget?
Money for the Calgary arena deal.
(Also included: a projection for matching funds for supporting an unspecified project in Edmonton.)
So unless either major party does a complete 180-degree turn from what they’ve been pledging on the campaign trail, and what they’ve included in their respective costed out platform budgets, the Calgary arena deal appears to be something that probably happens no matter the result of the voting when ballots are counted on May 29.

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