MAYOR re­sponds

Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi says the city re­mains at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble for a new NHL arena

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Donna Spencer THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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 $890mil­lion 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 $250mil­lion 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. 19 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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.