Cal­gary says it will pay for one third of $555 mil­lion arena for Flames

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY DONNA SPENCER

The Cal­gary Flames and their city are tak­ing their ne­go­ti­a­tions public on a new NHL arena pro­jected to cost $555 mil­lion.

The city pro­posed pay­ing a one-third share of $185 mil­lion, with Cal­gary Sports and En­ter­tain­ment pay­ing another third and the re­main­ing third paid for via a sur­charge on tick­ets sold to events in the new build­ing.

The Flames would get all rev­enues from the new arena, but the city wants CSEC to pay prop­erty tax on it.

“You’ll no­tice that even in this model CSEC gets 100 per cent of the rev­enues and prof­its from the arena,’’ Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said Fri­day morn­ing at City Hall.

“There is profit here. Our ar­gu­ment is the city needs to some­how share in the up­side if we’re go­ing to share in the cost.’’

Flames pres­i­dent Ken King con­tends the city’s pro­posal amounts to the team pay­ing the en­tire cost, or more, be­cause the team con­sid­ers a ticket sur­charge rev­enue that be­longs to them and be­cause they’d pay prop­erty tax.

“Their pro­posal has us not only pay­ing for ev­ery­thing, but more when you con­sider in­cre­men­tal taxes,’’ King said at a news con­fer­ence at the 34-yearold Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome.

“They want a win-win. We think us pay­ing 120 per cent of the project isn’t ex­actly that.

“If we ac­tu­ally did this deal, it would be worse than what we have now. We’ve be bet­ter off to stay here.’’

He said the Flames would make fi­nan­cial de­tails of their of­fer, and a blue­print for the build­ing, public next week.

King an­nounced Tues­day, on be­half of Flames own­ers Mur­ray Ed­wards, Alvin Libin, Clay­ton Rid­dell, Al­lan Markin and Jeff McCaig, they were halt­ing ``spec­tac­u­larly un­pro­duc­tive’’ talks with the city on a new arena.

Nen­shi, who is run­ning for a third term in the Oct. 16 civic elec­tion, had said a day ear­lier that the arena was part of a vi­sion for a re­vi­tal­ized arts and en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict on the down­town’s east side.

“Of course it’s an elec­tion is­sue,’’ King said.

“It be­came an elec­tion is­sue be­cause it was in­di­cated that on Mon­day morn­ing we were an in­te­gral part of a vi­sion that in­cluded an arena that had lit­tle to no chance of com­ing to fruition based on what they just showed you.’’

The Vic­to­ria Park pro­posal to build an arena just north of the Sad­dle­dome came af­ter the $890-mil­lion Cal­gar­yNext project pitched by the Flames two years ago.

That con­cept in­cluded a hockey arena, foot­ball sta­dium and field­house on the west side of down­town.

CSEC also owns the Cana­dian Foot­ball League’s Stam­ped­ers, the Western Hockey League’s Hit­men and the Na­tional Lacrosse League’s Rough­necks.

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

City coun­cil de­clared Cal­gar­yNext would cost $1.8 bil­lion when the cost of re­me­di­at­ing cre­osote-soaked soil was in­cluded.

The city’s most re­cent of­fer made public Fri­day said they would make a $130-mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion that would not come from prop­erty tax, would do­nate the land worth $30 mil­lion and would pay $25 mil­lion for the de­mo­li­tion of the Sad­dle­dome.

Nen­shi added the city would also pay in­di­rect costs of over ap­prox­i­mately $200 mil­lion to ex­pand in­fra­struc­ture and public tran­sit to Vic­to­ria Park.

King coun­tered those are costs the city would in­cur whether there is an arena there or not.

How much prop­erty tax the Flames would pay on a new build­ing is up for ne­go­ti­a­tion.

“The Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act ac­tu­ally has an ex­emp­tion that the city can set its own rate for pro­fes­sional sports fa­cil­i­ties,’’ Nen­shi ex­plained.

“I would say in the range of $5 mil­lion a year would be rea­son­able, but that is some­thing we were very much de­bat­ing.’’

King re­it­er­ated the Flames are not mov­ing to another city any time soon, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously point­ing out they could.

“We want to en­sure the public knows that the five men and their fam­i­lies who helped build this city, who em­ploy tens of thou­sands of peo­ple, have pro­vided hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in phi­lan­thropy, and in spite of no good fi­nan­cial sense, have and will strive to keep pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur sports as a ben­e­fi­cial and valu­able part of our cul­ture,’’ he said.

“This is no money-grab. If it was, we’d be long gone. There’s lots of places to make a lot of money in sports other than here.’’

CP PHOTO

Cal­gary Flames pres­i­dent Ken King speaks to re­porters about the team’s po­si­tion on the Sad­dle­dome in Cal­gary, Alta., Fri­day.

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