News / Calgary

Chabot says Nenshi's arena statements 'ruffled feathers'

Ken King and the Calgary Flames have pulled out of arena deal discussions with the City of Calgary just ahead of the civic election

President and CEO of the Calgary Flames Ken King said the group is no longer looking to build a new stadium in Calgary

Helen Pike / Metro

President and CEO of the Calgary Flames Ken King said the group is no longer looking to build a new stadium in Calgary

A mayoral hopeful is saying Naheed Nenshi's comments about CalgaryNEXT and his vision may have ruffled feathers over at Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, enough to unhinge any chance of an arena deal.

Councillors and the mayor have gone into a private meeting to discuss how to proceed after the Flames dropped a bombshell on Tuesday: there's no arena deal, they're not considering a new stadium in Calgary.

"(Nenshi's) downplayed the value of a new arena," said Coun. Andre Chabot.

"I think the new arena would be extremely important for the redevelopment of Victoria Park; the mayor doesn't think that that is a critical piece."

When asked if the Flames current stance is a result of recent comments, Chabot said. "I think so."

"He went so far as to say that the Saddledome has been there for 35 years and what development has occurred as a result of it?" said Chabot.

"I don't think the mayor should be blamed entirely, however, some of the comments that are made outside of the negotiations, which is what I think triggered this whole discussion, were made by the mayor ... I think he set the stage."

Chabot said he doesn't think it's the best strategy at this point to reveal council's end of the deal for the public to see.

Metro has sources indicating the deal on the table was for a $500 million arena, with the cost split three ways: 1/3 each from the City and CSEC, and the remaining 1/3 paid through a ticket surcharge. Property tax exemption and how the city could recoup its initial investment were the primary sticking points, sources said.

When asked, without revealing the intricacies of the deal, if Chabot would support what was on the table, he said "no."

"It probably would be good to get it out there before the election so it would help to guide people's decision on who they're going to elect," said Chabot.

"But if council makes a decision as a whole it essentially paints us with the same brush."

More on