Games blueprint reignites debate on Flames arena
New event Centre Could combine mid-sized facility And NHL rink
Tweaks to Calgary’s $5.2-billion Olympic hosting plan revealed this week are already being floated, as city officials await confirmation on funding from provincial and federal governments.
And the biggest change for a potential bid is being touted as a new event centre that combines the plan’s proposed mid-sized arena with a new NHL arena for the Calgary Flames.
“If you’re going to have an event centre, why not have two arenas combined?
“You can save costs, with only one ammonia plant, but then also have two events going on at the same time,” said Jeff Davison, councillor for Ward 6.
“The draft plan is just that — a draft. And if there are opportunities for cost efficiencies, then we should consider them.”
Coun. Shane Keating said he, too, is in favour of exploring the combination.
“Why wouldn’t we look at building that small-medium rink within the event centre, rather than off on its own for a huge amount of money, when we could link things and save money?”
The city’s bid corporation, Calgary 2026, unveiled its $5.2-billion draft plan Tuesday but only proposed two new venues, a field house and a mid-sized arena with 5,000 seats.
But no mention was made of a new NHL arena for the Flames.
But Davison, who has been part of ongoing negotiations with the Flames as part of the new Event Centre Assessment Committee since June, is now floating this new idea combining both midsized and NHL-sized arenas in one centre.
That way, he explained, the larger rink could host NHL games and big-name concerts, while the smaller venue could host the Calgary Roughnecks, the Calgary Hitmen or smaller concerts and other events.
Of the $5.2 billion needed to run a potential Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics, $2 billion will come from ticket revenue and corporate sponsorships, while $3 billion will come from taxpayers.
The proposed bid will go to a plebiscite Nov. 13, with hopes that all three levels of government will have already specified their contributions.
While the province has said it will take up to 30 days to outline its contribution, the federal government also would not provide specific numbers.
“We have just received the numbers last week, so this is a long process and we are currently reviewing those numbers,” said Kirsty Duncan, federal minister for science and sport.
“We know that Canadians expect our due diligence,” she added.
“And we want to make the best decision possible for Albertans and for Canadians.”
Duncan’s comments come one day after issuing a letter to Calgary city council, outlining the federal government’s funding commitment more specifically and stating that if Calgarians support the bid in a plebiscite, “our investment would match the combined provincial and municipal investments to the core costs of the event.”
When asked whether that funding
We have just received the numbers last week, so this is a long process and we are currently reviewing those numbers.
commitment would change if the draft plan changed, Duncan would not specify.
But John Furlong, CEO and president for the 2010 Vancouver Games, says with the 2026 Games still eight years away, it’s important to keep an open mind.
“There’s nothing wrong with making changes along the way. And if new ideas improve upon old ideas, that will always be applauded.”
Furlong said that well after the citizens of Vancouver and surrounding areas voted two-thirds in favour of the 2010 Games in a plebiscite, the concept plan made several changes, including the relocation of a temporary media centre from Richmond to a new convention centre later approved for downtown Vancouver.
“It was going to get built either way, so that was not an Olympic cost and became a savings for us.”
In spite of previously reported costs of more than $7 billion for the Vancouver Games, Furlong said the more accurate number is $2.5 billion.