News / Calgary

Calgary arena deal: Here's what the city offered

The City's overall tally would have been $185 million direct, and more than $150 million indirectly.

Calgary skyline in the winter months, with the Saddledome in the foreground.

Metro file photo

Calgary skyline in the winter months, with the Saddledome in the foreground.

The city's arena proposal gave the Calgary Flames full control of a new arena and 100 per cent of all revenues generated with a direct $185 million injection of taxpayers dollars. 

On Friday, days after council gave the Mayor the OK, Naheed Nenshi disclosed the details of Calgary's arena deal to a room full of reporters. 

Earlier this week, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president and CEO Ken King told media that CSEC was no longer pursuing a deal for a new arena, saying meeting with the city had been "spectacularly unproductive."

Sources told Metro one of the biggest sticking points was the city's desire to recoup some of their investment through property tax, while the Flames were seeking property tax exemption.

The Friday announcement didn't include the Flames' ownership proposal, which the city didn't disclose. 

Breakdown of the City of Calgary's arena proposal to the Calgary Flames.


Breakdown of the City of Calgary's arena proposal to the Calgary Flames.

King is expected to provide a public response to the city's deal later Friday morning.

Included in the city's offer was $130 million non-property tax dollars, $30 million in land and $25 million to demolish the Saddledome. 

This represents roughly one third of an estimated $555 million project, with CSEC responsible for the other 1/3 and a ticket surcharge would cover the remaining 1/3. It wasn't clear who would front the $185 million to be recouped from the ticket surcharge.

Indirectly, the city would also contribute $150 million in infrastructure, a Green Line station and the utility upgrades. 

Calgarians would benefit from the arena's property tax dollars and having the team in Calgary for the next 35 years.

“Throughout this entire process, The City has negotiated in good faith and always been very up front with CSEC,” said Mayor Nenshi, in a prepared release.

“The City has not left the table and is prepared to continue negotiations."

The Mayor was flanked by five other councillors during the press conference Friday morning. There the mayor said he's always been in favour of an arena, but maintained that it must be a fair deal for the city.

"We always wanted to present this proposal to Calgarians," the mayor said, adding that now is the time for Calgarians to provide feedback on the deal.

"If anything, some will say the city's giving up too much."

Nenshi also said that they wanted to make sure some of the peripheral costs were included in the deal.

"We wanted to be very very clear with Calgarians about All-City costs," Nenshi said.

City of Calgary arena proposal

"We've seen stadium deals lately where there are a bunch of costs that weren't officially part of the deal, but that governments have incurred."

And ultimately, with a new arena, Nenshi said the city wanted to share in the overall financial benefit.

"It's important for us to remember the goal of building a new arena is not to win a Stanley Cup. It's not to invest in a better team on the ice. The goal of building a new arena is to make more money and of course we've engaged sports economists – we haven't been able to look at the Flames numbers – but we've engaged sports economists who are the best in the world to give us a sense of what a new arena makes. It makes a lot of money," Nenshi said.

"As a result there's profit here and our argument is that the city needs to somehow share in the upside if we're going to share in the cost."

The announcement of the city's latest arena proposal comes after months of behind-closed-doors negotiations between the City and CSEC.

According to sources close to the situation, those talks broke off at the end of July.


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