Calgary mayor wants to revive arena talks

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi says the city remains at the negotiating table for a new NHL arena even though the Flames have declared they’ve pulled out of talks.

The NHL team is frustrated with “spectacularly unproductive” negotiations, according to team president Ken King.

“We remain ready to negotiate in good faith,” the mayor countered Wednesday.

“Council understands the importance of the Flames to this city, council understands the importance of having the Flames downtown.

“We worked very hard to come up with a deal that makes sense in this economy without impacting people’s taxes that nonetheless participates in both the risk and the upside.”

The initial $890-million CalgaryNext project the Flames pitched two years ago included an arena, football stadium and field house built on the west side of downtown.

The Flames’ owners offered $200 million of their money and proposed a $250-million loan be repaid through a ticket surcharge, with the city covering the rest.

Council disagreed with the CalgaryNext price tag saying the project would cost approximately $1.8 billion when cleanup of creosote-soaked soil was included.

CalgaryNext moved to the back burner when council showed more enthusiasm for building an arena closer to the 34-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome in a planned arts and entertainment district on the downtown east side.

Councillors voted Wednesday to allow Nenshi to release financial details on the “Victoria Park” option, which the mayor said he would do soon.

The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday the city offered to pay a third of the cost, but that money had to be paid back.

“I can tell you that what has been reported — the one-third, one-third, one-third deal — as the basis, but there’s a lot more to it than that,” Nenshi said.

“I can tell you the city has a very fair offer on the table. One I think many Calgarians, most Calgarians will see as eminently reasonable. There is another offer on the table that most Calgarians will see as eminently unreasonable.”

King said the Flames’ contribution to the Victoria Park option was “substantial.”

“You know the kind of commitment we were prepared to make to the west village, the kind of ratio that was,” he said Tuesday.

“It wouldn’t come as any surprise to anybody to understand it might be a similar ratio on this side.”

While King denied making the arena an election issue, the timing of the team’s bombshell seems designed to turn up on the heat on the mayor and councillors ahead of the Oct. 16 civic election.

“If you’re trying to influence the general public, I think putting that on the table right in the midst of the election ultimately can achieve better results from their perspective,” said Coun. Andre Chabot, who is one of nine candidates running for mayor.

Nenshi, who seeks a third term, has at times downplayed the economic benefit of a new arena, which created tension between the NHL team and the mayor.

The trigger for the Flames’ withdrawal seemed to be Nenshi speaking to media earlier this week about how an arena fits into his vision of revitalizing an area known as the East Village.

King said after he talked with Nenshi’s chief of staff Monday, the Flames owners met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to inform him they were pulling the plug on talks.

“The mayor’s campaign seemed to kick off with a vision for Victoria Park,” King said.

“I wanted to really understand if in fact his announcement of the vision and what they deem to be a fair deal was maybe the signal they were prepared to do our deal. It was made very clear to me that they were not.”

The Flames players report for physical testing Thursday. King said the team is not leaving Calgary any time soon despite no firm agreement on a new building.

Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney, who is running for the leadership of the province’s United Conservative party, urged both sides to continue talking.

“I would, like most Calgarians, encourage both sides to sit down and discuss this in good faith,” Kenney said.

“None of us want to jeopardize the presence of an NHL team here because two can’t sit down and have a grown-up conversation in good faith.”

Just Posted

WATCH: Red Deer teacher engages students with “cool” science experiments

On Thursday, he made fire dance to the beat of the music

Province purchases land for new Red Deer courthouse

Construction to begin in the fall of 2019

Parking costs in Red Deer are going up — so are parking tickets

City council raises parking rates by 25 per cent starting July 1

WATCH: Alberta Party leadership candidates in Red Deer

Three people vying to be the leader of the Alberta Party were… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… 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