The Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., on September 15, 2017. Looking to reignite talks with the Flames for a new NHL arena, Calgary city council voted to form a committee that will try to get the team back to the negotiating table.The Flames broke off talks last September just as a civic election got underway, calling discussions “spectacularly unproductive.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary city council votes to restart arena conversation with Flames

CALGARY — The frosty silence over the building of a new NHL arena in Calgary thawed a little Monday.

City council voted to form a committee that will attempt to re-engage the Calgary Flames in talks on a new sport and concert venue.

“If we are going to say we are still at the table, let’s act like we’re at the table,” Coun. Jeff Davison said.

“We’ve sent a strong signal today that says we have a strong contingent on council that wants to have a conversation.”

A Flames spokesman said the team had no comment.

A new arena became civic election fodder last September when Calgary Sports and Entertainment broke off negotiations within days of Mayor Naheed Nenshi kicking off his campaign for a third term.

Nenshi talked about a new arena as part of his vision for the downtown east side’s revitalization.

He has one vote on council, although his voice carries influence as mayor. And it was his voice countering CSEC president Ken King’s in the public back and forth over who should pay how much for a new arena.

The issue took on a personal tone when a Flames employee tweeted — later deleted — that Nenshi’s re-election as mayor was “worse than Donald Trump being president.”

Flames vice-president of marketing Gordon Norrie had urged people on social media to vote for Bill Smith, who was Nenshi’s main rival in the election.

Eleven councillors brought forth Monday’s motion to essentially get arena talks back on track. Nenshi was among those voting in favour of it.

“I think hitting the reset button is a good idea, but the reset button has to be hit on both sides,” Nenshi said.

“Given that we were not the party that walked away I think it’s important everyone come back to the table and maybe with new faces around the table as well.”

CSEC also owns the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders, Western Hockey League’s Hitmen and National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks in addition to the NHL’s Flames.

King speaks for Flames owners Murray Edwards, Alvin Libin, Clayton Riddell, Allan Markin and Jeff McCaig, and stated in September that the team would make the Saddledome work “for as long as we believe it is feasible.”

CSEC had offered to put $275 million into a new $500-million arena built just north of the 35-year-old Saddledome, and said the city should raise the remaining $225 million through a community revitalization levy.

A CRL allows the city to divert property taxes from new development that would theoretically spring up around a new arena into paying for it.

The city proposed a three-way split on the cost of a $555-million arena, with the city and the Flames each paying $185 million and the remaining third raised from a surcharge on tickets.

The city said the Flames would control the new arena and receive all revenue from it.

But King insisted the city’s offer amounts to the team paying the entire cost, or more, because CSEC considers a ticket surcharge paid by users revenue that belongs to the team and because the city wants CSEC to pay property tax.

“It will be hard for the committee to convince me to put a lot more public money on the table,” Nenshi said Monday. “I think it will be hard for the committee to convince council to do that.

“I think it will be hard for the committee to convince Calgarians to do that.”

The Victoria Park location for an arena came after an $890-million CalgaryNext project pitched by the Flames in 2015. That concept included a hockey arena, football stadium and field house on the west side of downtown.

Flames owners offered $200 million of their own money and proposed a $250-million loan be repaid through a ticket surcharge.

Council determined CalgaryNext would cost as much as $1.8 billion when the cost of remediating creosote-soaked soil was included.

The mayor doesn’t want the committee spending a lot of time reviving the West Village option.

“We spent millions of dollars on the analysis of the West Village and determined it really is a non-starter for so many reasons,” Nenshi said.

“If this committee spends the next six months going through the points on the West Village again, I think that would be a big failure.”

Just Posted

Photos: Children enjoy petting animals near Red Deer Sunday

Children and families learned about various animals and birds at a petting… Continue reading

Search for missing Tofino boaters scaled back, handed over to RCMP

TOFINO, B.C. — Jae Valentine woke to the sound of wolves howling… Continue reading

Get ready for the ‘internet of cows’: Farmers use technology to shake up agriculture

MONTREAL — Get ready for the “internet of cows.” Generations of farmers… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer cadets conclude year of learning

After a year of hard work, Red Deer’s local Air and Army… Continue reading

WATCH: Central Alberta High School Soccer League champs crowned

Lindsay Thurber girls’ team and Notre Dame boys’ team won Saturday at Edgar Park Field in Red Deer

5 dead as SUV chased by Border Patrol crashes in South Texas

BIG WELLS, Texas — At least five people were killed and several… Continue reading

Ramifications of a trade war: an expert look at the numbers for Canada

OTTAWA — A new analysis of escalating trade disputes involving the United… Continue reading

Deliberate spill: study launched to test crude and bitumen impact on lake life

KENORA, Ont. — Researchers were in northwestern Ontario over the weekend spilling… Continue reading

Two-spirit N.B. First Nation chief says his election points to progress

FREDERICTON — The new leader of a New Brunswick First Nation said… Continue reading

Google diversity report: Black women make up only 1.2 percent of its US workforce

Google released its annual workforce diversity report Thursday, marking only modest changes… Continue reading

Brazil held to 1-1 draw by Switzerland at World Cup

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — Brazil joined the list of big teams struggling to… Continue reading

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime wins Sopra Steria title for 2nd straight year

LYON, France — Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime defended his ATP Challenger Sopra Steria… Continue reading

Police: Taxi driver who hit 8 Moscow pedestrians fell asleep

MOSCOW — The suspect in a taxi crash near Red Square that… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month