News / Calgary

City councillor hopes to see Saddledome repurposed

Many other sports arenas have successfully converted to things like apartments and shopping centres

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

As CalgaryNext continues to be the talk of the town, those who own the Scotiabank Saddledome are mulling over possible consequences for the iconic building, including repurposing, something that isn’t a new idea for old sporting complexes. 

A request for proposal released this week by the city, in conjunction with the Saddledome Foundation Board, is asking for a report to be delivered this fall that shows prospective uses for the building. 

“The successful proponent will be responsible for completion of the study including multiple scenario options and production of a final report to be used by The City and the Foundation as the future of this facility is debated,” reads the RFP.  

“Services required in the scope of work include but are not necessarily limited to facility planning, architecture, engineering, facility rehabilitation, business and facility financial planning services.”

Ward 5 Coun. Ray Jones, who sits on the Saddledome Foundation board, said he can’t imagine the city’s skyline without the famous saddle-roofed building.  

“I would like to see repurposing done on the Saddledome,” he said. “It’s a major part of our downtown skyline.”

Jones said the report is to be delivered in October, and would explore at least four options, including: continuing to operate the building in its current form, repurposing the facility, decommissioning the building but having it available for special events, or demolition. 

Metro looked into what other sports complexes have done in terms of repurposing when they were faced with similar scenarios. Here are five repurposed complexes: 

1. Maple Leaf Gardens

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Located in Toronto on the northwest corner of Carlton Street and Church Streer, the building was originally the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1931-1999. 

In 2004, the building was converted to a multi-purpose facility. It is currently home to Loblaws, Joe Fresh and a LCBO liquor store. It still has a much smaller arena, which is the home ice for the Ryerson University Rams. 

2. The Montreal Forum 

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Located across the street from the Cabot Square in Montreal, the Forum was home to the NHL’s Montreal Maroons from 1924-1938 and then the Montreal Canadiens from 1926-1996 (during which time they hoisted 22 Stanley Cups).

Now, the building is the home to a Cineplex movie theater, a bowling alley, a sports bar, arcade, a Tim Hortons and a Montreal Canadien’s gift shop—to name a few. 

3. Bush Stadium

CORE Redevelopment

Located in Indianapolis and built in 1931, and according to CORE Redevelopment it served as a significant venue for both segregated and integrated baseball and in 1997 it became a dirt track for midget auto racing.

CORE said that in 2011 it was proposed the building be converted to apartments, and the apartments became a reality in 2013. It's now called the Stadium Lofts.

4. Olympic Auditorium

Wikimedia

According to LA Weekly, the Olympic was LA’s home for boxing and wrestling as early as 1925 and was the home to local televised boxing matches throughout the 60’s. 

The building hosted it’s last major event—an Oscar De La Hoya fight— in 1994. 2005 the Olympic was converted to a church. 

5. The Great American Pyramid

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According to Sports Illustrated—the giant pyramid located in Memphis, Tennessee is a 60 per cent replica of the Egyptian Pyramids. It once was the host to the University of Memphis basketball program as well as the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies until 2004 when the FedEX Forum opened. 

Now, the building has taken on an entirely different purpose, opening as a Bass Pro Shop in 2015, after signing a 55-year lease with the city.

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