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Flames unveil plan for new arena


Expected for some time now (see: here, here, and here), the Calgary Flames have finally released their plans to replace 32-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome with a new arena.

The Flames say the $890 million project, called CalgaryNEXT, has “the potential to be one of Calgary’s most transformative projects at a vital time in our city’s history.”

In addition to a new arena for the Flames, the plan also calls for a covered football stadium for the CFL’s Stampeders (both teams are owned by the same company), with sports facilities for public use. (More info on that here.)

And how do the Flames envision this project getting funded?

Of course, that financing plan does not include what could be a costly environment cleanup of the proposed site, and it’s not clear who would pay for that. Flames president and CEO Ken King argued in a presentation Tuesday that the project could be a “catalyst” to get the remediation done.

With approval a ways off, plus an approximate time line of three years for construction, King expects the project to take, at minimum, five years from today to complete.

Meanwhile, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has released a statement about the project.

While Nenshi called it an “intriguing proposal,” he warned that “there are very significant requirements for public funding beyond the fieldhouse funding, and there is currently no money.”

Nenshi continued, “I have said for a long time—and continue to strongly believe—that public money must be for public benefit and not private profit. The question for Council, the ownership group, and all Calgarians is whether this proposal meets that test.

“That said, I truly appreciate the efforts of the ownership group in bringing forward an innovative project in a thoughtful, professional, and ethical way. I firmly believe that these Calgarians want to do something exceptional for our community.

“City Council will ensure that that there is significant public engagement and will work cooperatively with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and the other orders of government to determine whether this project is viable.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also released a statement:

Related: Burke calls the Saddledome ’embarrassing’