Friday , December 3 2021

The Calgary aena project can cost up to $ 600 million: CMLC



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Artistic renderings shown during a presentation to Calgary's city at the arena / event center district.

Rossetti / CMLC

The Calgary City Council will not decide until the beginning of next year if public dollars will help finance the construction of a new arena to replace the aging Saddledome, but new estimates for the project suggest that the total cost could amount to $ 600 million.

Calgary Municipal Land Corp. told a committee for Friday that a new arena would cost between 550 million and 600 million dollars, based on estimates from entrepreneurs and discussions with the owners of Calgary Flames.

Estimates do not include the cost of land and represent a small increase from the price tag previously flopped for the "Plan B" proposal to locate an arena in the car park inland north of Stampede Park.

Flame owners have not said if they are in agreement with CMLC's estimation, but Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp gave conceptual drawings of a 20,000-seat building by the Rossettis architect for CMLC to review.

"I'm very sure we can deliver a really good building for Calgary's citizens, like Calgary Sports and Entertainment, for that number – it's a strong figure," says CMLC's President Michael Brown.

The committee members also spent part of the meeting evaluating plans for Ernst and Young to make an economic impact assessment of the proposed entertainment and cultural area in Victoria Park including a look at the potential benefits and disadvantages of using public dollars to expand the BMO Center and construct a new arena.

Some councilors have eagerly used the term "event center", rather than "the arena", and argue that it describes more precisely the "broader" uses a new facility could have.

Coun. Druh Farrell told the committee members that she was not clear about the difference between the two.

"I'm trying to understand the difference," said Farrell. "I just wondered if it's a nicer way of saying" an arena "?"

Several attempts to clarify the question in the chambers failed, but after the meeting, Brown told reporters that the new event center could contain pop-up gallery and multi-function rooms that can be hired for performances and events.

"That's what I think makes it an event center," Brown said. "I know there are question marks, but if it was just an arena, that's not enough. We have to have a lot more."

The committee meeting saw a number of councilors, including the mayor, questioning plans to make an economic impact assessment of the project.

Calgary Economic Development has employed Ernst and Young to complete the study, which could be completed since January. The company said it plans to compare Calgary's proposed district to "similar" development in Edmonton, Columbus and Nashville.

However, regardless of the outcome of the study, Mayor Naheed Nenshi pointed out that there are at least three major major projects within the framework of the restructuring of Victoria Park, where the entertainment district would be located.

The Council must decide whether to allocate funds to an arena, an expansion of the BMO Center or an expansion of the Arts Commons – or a combination of the three.

"What I'm really interested in is, what are the effects of them individually? And what are the overlap effects that multiply when you have them all in a district?" Nenshi said. "I think if we can figure it out, it really helps us make a decision."

A number of funding sources may be available for bankroll creation of a entertainment district. The city has about $ 300 million to spend on a big project in the next few years, says Jeff Fielding City Manager.

An expansion of the congress center may be eligible for provincial and federal funding. And future revenue from an extension of the Community reconstruction fee could apply to one of the projects. The city can also borrow money if the council chooses to take on more than one project at the same time.

The chairman of the committee, Jeff Davison, said he wants the Council to finance an expansion of the BMO Center and help build a new arena as part of a major investment in an entertainment and cultural area.

"The investment that the city will place there really shows that we have skin in the game here and it will set the tone for the private sector to get to the table," said Davison.

"I think Calgary needs a victory. We have a strategic investment opportunity that is in front of us and right now this is what we need to look at to start creating value as a city." You can not just roll over and do nothing. "

The Council is expected to decide which projects it will prioritize in the next four years at a strategic meeting on 28 January.

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Twitter: @mpotkins

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