Calgary, AB,

City of Calgary shares funding proposal for arena/events centre

Today, Mayor Naheed Nenshi joined with members of Calgary City Council to share with Calgarians The City of Calgary’s funding proposal for a new arena/events centre in Victoria Park. For over a year, negotiators from The City have regularly met with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) to come to an agreement to build a replacement for the Scotiabank Saddledome. After CSEC announced earlier this week that it would be discontinuing negotiations with The City of Calgary, Council voted to release the details of The City’s latest proposal that was under negotiation.

“City Council believes that we have before us a very fair proposal—a proposal that we were prepared to share with the public for engagement should CSEC agree to move forward,” said Mayor Nenshi. “Given recent partial reports of the proposal and that CSEC has said it has left the table, we believe that it is important to share this proposal with all Calgarians now.”

The total direct cost for the arena is estimated to be $555 million and The City has proposed a funding formula whereby The City, CSEC, and users would each contribute 1/3 of the direct costs—$185 million each.

The City’s contribution includes:

  • land valued at $30 million dollars,
  • interim maintenance and eventual demolition of the Saddledome valued at $25 million,
  • a $130 million cash contribution from non-property tax sources, and
  • facilitating development of adjacent land by CSEC

In addition to The City’s $185 million in direct costs, The City will incur indirect cost related to infrastructure to support the arena and redevelopment in Victoria Park in the amount of $150 million, excluding the cost of utilities and the LRT station, which will also be paid for by The City.

Users would cover the remaining $185 million through a user fee/ticket surcharge.

One of the key principles of the proposal is that CSEC would own the arena. As owners of the building, CSEC would pay property taxes on the building and land, as any other private property owner in Calgary is required to do. These property taxes would pay to support the services that citizens and business use everyday and they would partially defray the cost of delivering the services required to support the arena, like extra transit, police, street cleaning, etc. The City remains open to discussing the amount and the form of this revenue. For example, if it is better for CSEC to pay rent on a building owned by The City, or agree to revenue sharing, or provide an equity stake in the team, all of these things are open for discussion.

The City has been—and continues to be—willing to discuss all elements of this proposal, and everything remains on the table for negotiation.

“Throughout this entire process, The City has negotiated in good faith and always been very up front with CSEC,” said Mayor Nenshi. “The City has not left the table and is prepared to continue negotiations. I’m very pleased that we are also sharing this with citizens, and I look forward to hearing feedback that I hope will also support future negotiations.”