Calgary’s proposed big fancy stadium could come with an even bigger cost
With the steaming pile of crap sitting in the middle of our city that is often referred to as the Saddledome currently serving as the largest sports and entertainment venue for Calgarians, many large concerts and events have chosen to skip the city on tours, giving preference to Edmonton’s or Vancouver’s more accommodating stadiums. With this in mind, Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp. have proposed a brand spanking new arena to replace the Saddledump and McMahon Stadium. The project, dubbed “CalgaryNEXT,” will be a one-stop shop for all of Calgary’s large events, with a proposed FIFA-sized soccer field, regulation CFL football field and NHL ice rink, and everything else to make the city relevant enough for big name artists to save a spot for Calgary on their tours.
Sounds great right? Well, like many of Michael Bay’s recent movies, things can often look really good until its time to deliver. Negotiations between the city and Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp. have been anything but smooth. Originally, the new stadium was designed with a $890 million price tag on it. Since then, the projected price has jumped to 1.3 billion, with the city claiming that number is closer to 1.8 billion. With money not growing on or around trees, Mayor Naheed Nenshi says something this expensive will be a tall task to pull off.
“We could go back and forth and fight about the discrepancy but the point is even their best-case scenario is still a lot of money that we don’t have and that’s something we’ll have to address,” says Nenshi.
Flames president Ken King says the group is trying to make the price an easier pill to swallow for the city’s tax payers.
“Sure anything could be considered,” says King. “Our model doesn’t contemplate that but we need to agree that we’re trying to make a deal before we determine the terms of that deal.”
In the original proposed budget, the Flames would only be responsible for paying $200 million of the project’s needed funds, with the rest of it coming from the city, a community revitalization levy and a proposed ticket surcharge, making Stampeders and Flames games a little more expensive. On top of this, the new stadium would require the demolition of a large part of the community of Sunalta, including the existing Greyhound station, multiple car dealerships and a train line that is barely old enough to go to Kindergarten.
While I must admit the proposed CalgaryNEXT stadium looks awesome and puts Doug Dimmadome’s Dimmsdale Dimmadome to shame (high five if you get that reference), there’s no denying that it is a massive project that probably won’t be solved, yet alone built, for a number of years. While money is currently the forefront of the argument, taking down an entire community is something the city and the Flames have to work together on. But I’m sure if we can get ourselves out of a giant flood, we can somehow and somewhere find a place that doesn’t look like a sad half-pipe.