After several months of dipping their toes in the water, a process facilitated by the city’s third parties, the City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation have restarted formal negotiations for a new arena. The step forward was announced by a media release from the City on Wednesday morning, coinciding with Wednesday’s event centre committee meeting.
From the release:
“With CSEC and The City now entering formal discussions, The City’s third party have fulfilled their mandate and their work has concluded. Moving forward, The City will now be represented by CAA ICON, who are experts in structuring deals for major sports and entertainment venues in North America and Europe. CAA ICON will have local support from Altus Group’s Calgary office.”
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Per their website, CAA ICON are a branch of the CAA Sports wing of the CAA mega-agency. CAA ICON provides consulting services, focusing on deal-making and project management, for major sports facility projects. Among their past clients include Oak View Group (Climage Pledge Arena, Seattle), Oilers Entertainment Group (Rogers Place, Edmonton), the Las Vegas Raiders (Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas), the Golden State Warriors (Chase Center, San Francisco) and the Milwaukee Bucks (Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee). Altus Group is primarily known for providing real estate consultancy services.
The previous deal, which saw the City contributing $287.5 million in direct construction costs (plus some expenditures relating to transportation upgrades and Saddledome demolition) and CSEC on the hook for the remainder of the construction costs, fell apart at the end of 2021 amidst concerns of rising costs, with CSEC opting not to move forward. (At the time, estimated construction costs were roughly $650 million, and a final construction budget for the facility was still months from completion.) The City rapidly created the event centre committee, aimed at coming up with a game plan for constructing an event centre.
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How significant is this development? It’s pretty significant. Prior to the restart of formal negotiations, informal communications between the two parties were facilitated by the City’s appointed third party: think of it like having an envoy to help pass notes back and forth. Evidently enough positive things emerged from those informal chats to make both sides want to restart formal negotiations. That’s definitely a good sign. But there’s likely still a ways to go to hammer out a deal.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.