Cal­gary says it will put $185M to­ward new arena for Flames

The Daily Observer - - SPORTS - DONNA SPENCER

CAL­GARY — The City of Cal­gary is of­fer­ing to pay for one-third of the cost of a new NHL arena.

In re­sponse to the Cal­gary Flames break­ing off talks for a new rink ear­lier this week, Cal­gary Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi re­vealed de­tails Fri­day of what the city pro­poses to pay for a build­ing ex­pected to cost $555 mil­lion.

The Flames haven’t made their counter-pro­posal pub­lic, but have in­di­cated they want the city to pay closer to half the cost. Flames pres­i­dent Ken King has said team own­ers pulled out of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­cause they’ve been spec­tac­u­larly un­pro­duc­tive.

“This is of course an emo­tional is­sue for many peo­ple,” Nen­shi said.

“I had a poster of Theo Fleury on my wall when I was a kid. I’ve been a Flames fan for a long time.

“We have to put the emo­tions aside and we have to de­ter­mine what is the right thing for Cal­gary, what is the right thing for the cit­i­zens, what is the right thing for the tax­payer.

“Cal­gar­i­ans have told us, ‘We’re will­ing to make an in­vest­ment.

We’re not will­ing to give away the farm.’ ”

The city pro­posed pay­ing $185 mil­lion up front, with the Flames con­tribut­ing the same amount and the other third com­ing from a sur­charge on tick­ets to events in the new build­ing. The Flames’ own­ers would own the new arena and re­ceive all rev­enues from it, but the city asks that they pay prop­erty tax.

Nen­shi added the city would bear ap­prox­i­mately $200 mil­lion in in­di­rect costs, which are in­fra­struc­ture and pub­lic tran­sit ex­pan­sion to the area on the down­town east side.

While King has de­nied mak­ing the arena an elec­tion is­sue, the tim­ing of the team’s with­drawal seems de­signed to put pres­sure on the mayor and coun­cil­lors ahead of next month’s civic elec­tion.

King was ex­pected to hold a me­dia avail­abil­ity later Fri­day.

The Flames’ cur­rent arena — the Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome — opened its doors in 1983.

JEFF MCIN­TOSH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The City of Cal­gary is of­fer­ing to pay for one-third of the cost of a new NHL arena to re­place the Sad­dle­dome, pic­tured.

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