Flames one step closer to futuristic arena


New arena for Calgary agreement reached Image: City of Calgary

The National Hockey League (NHL) team Calgary Flames (Canada) are one step closer to a new arena.

‘NHL’ stated that the City of Calgary has reached agreements with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), which owns the Flames, the Province of Alberta (Canada) and the Calgary Stampede to proceed on the building of an events center as part of a culture and entertainment region in the City’s Rivers District in the East end of downtown Calgary.

The Calgary Flames are a professional ice hockey team based in Calgary. The Flames compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, and are the third major professional ice hockey team to represent the city of Calgary, Canada.

The 19,289-capacity Scotiabank Saddledome is a multiuse indoor arena in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Located in Stampede Park in the Southeast end of downtown Calgary, the Saddledome was built in 1983 to replace the 7,475-capacity Stampede Corral as the home of the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League (NHL), and to host ice hockey and figure skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) is a privately- owned professional sports and entertainment company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada formed in 2012 and owned by N. Murray Edwards, Alvin Libin, Allan Markin, Jeffrey McCaig, Clay Riddell, and Byron Seaman.

The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The 10-day event, which bills itself as ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth’, attracts over one million visitors per year and features one of the world’s largest rodeos, a parade, midway, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuckwagon racing, and First Nations exhibitions.

The announcement was made recently in Victoria Park, just North of Scotiabank Saddledome at the proposed site of the new arena.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement, “Today’s (April 26th) announcement is the culmination of so much work by so many and is fantastic news for the City of Calgary, the province of Alberta and the Calgary Flames. I want to thank the Mayor of Calgary, Jyoti Gondek, the Premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith, Councilwoman Sonya Sharp, the Calgary Stampede, and the ownership of the Flames, led by Murray Edwards, for their tireless efforts in bringing us to this day. And I extend special thanks to the terrific hockey fans of Calgary for their unflinching support of their team and our league. We can’t wait to drop the puck in a new, state-of-the-art arena and look forward to what this development will do for all Calgarians.”

‘NHL’ further stated that there is no timeline on the completion of a new events center and the surrounding Rivers District, which is estimated to cost more than $1.2 billion.

The events center itself is projected to cost $800 million, and will house CSEC properties including the Flames, Calgary Wranglers of the American Hockey League (a professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the NHL), Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (a major junior ice hockey league based in Western Canada and the Northwestern United States), and Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League (men’s professional box lacrosse league in North America).

The CSEC will contribute $356 million to the project, including $40 million up front and $17 million per year, increasing one percent per year, over 35 years.

The City will contribute $537.3 million to help fund the development of the events center, parking, an enclosed plaza, and a portion of an additional community rink to be constructed. The province will contribute $330 million, with $300 million earmarked for transportation improvements, land and infrastructure costs and $30 million towards the community rink. The Calgary Stampede has agreed to certain land sales and transfers to facilitate the development.

The Scotiabank Saddledome, which opened in 1983, is the NHL’s second-oldest arena. The 20,789-capacity Madison Square Garden in New York (US), home of the NHL team New York Rangers since 1968, completed an extensive renovation in 2013.

The Flames and the City of Calgary previously reached an agreement in July 2019 for the development of a new events center located just North of Scotiabank Saddledome on land owned by the Calgary Stampede. The plan, which included a 19,000-seat arena, was scrapped in December 2021 after a failed conclusion relating to the escalating expenditures, including risk associated with inflation and additional infrastructure and climate costs.

But talks resumed last October after the City Council voted to recruit a third party to bring all those involved back to the table in January 2022.

Said John Bean, the CSEC President and head honcho, “We are really excited today (April 26th) to be part of an announcement that we’re going to have a new home for the Calgary Flames, Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Roughnecks, and Calgary Wranglers.”

The Calgary Hitmen is a major junior ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Hitmen play in the Central Division of the Western Hockey League. They play their home games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Calgary Roughnecks are a professional box lacrosse team based in Calgary, Alberta. They are members of the Western Division of the National Lacrosse League and play their home games on the WestJet Field at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Calgary Wranglers are a professional ice hockey team based in Calgary, which began play in the 2022-2023 American Hockey League season. The team plays at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the home of their NHL affiliate team, the Calgary Flames.

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