After a few years of positivity surrounding a new arena for the Calgary Flames, the deal was terminated months before construction was supposed to begin. Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation announced Tuesday that deal had been terminated since neither the CSEC nor the city of Calgary waived “construction conditions.”
The CSEC and city of Calgary had previously agreed upon a new arena deal that split the estimated total of $550 million split between the two entities. Due to construction costs on top of roadway, sidewalk infrastructure, and climate mitigation the city had added to the proposal, the estimate rose to $634 million in total, with still unexpected costs due to the ever-rising inflation of construction. A clause accounted for an additional $25 million in expenses that could be split equally between the two parties within the agreement.
CSEC President and CEO John Bean commented on the matter, stating that the CSEC would be shouldering $346.5 million of this project compared to $287.5 by the city of Calgary.
Worth noting here is the Flames current arena, the Scotiabank Saddledome, is looking at roughly $50 million in estimated upgrades BEFORE estimates on a new roof, or at the very least, making the current roof more stable. Where that money for arena upgrades comes from is a great question. In their current contract, the CSEC is liable for the upkeep of the arena, not structural upgrades. It will be interesting to see what avenue the Flames can take to stay in the Saddledome while potentially working on a new deal.
One of the most significant parts of this story that I feel is being left out is the fanbase and citizens in Calgary. Flames fans are a very passionate and dedicated bunch who deserve a destination arena in a Canadian market. As a Flames fan, you have to look at Rogers Place, the new Edmonton Oilers palace, and fume with jealousy.
Does the NHL have arena problems?
Teams like Ottawa, Arizona, Calgary, and the New York Islanders have had arena struggles. My biggest concern is how does this happen? As an owner of an NHL franchise, your top priority after fielding a team should be the arena you play in. Having an arena in a solidified city with moderately easy access to travel too is essential to a thriving franchise. I am not saying these teams should be relocated, maybe Arizona because the fan bases support these teams.
Does the NHL have to do a better job of helping fund/negotiate deals for new arenas? My answer is yes; the NHL should help fund any arena deal to help it across the finish line. Take Calgary, for example; there was a need for around $50-100 million in funding that would be needed to push this deal across the finish line, something I believe is feasible for the NHL to do; it is almost an obligation to their league and fans.
For the NHL to take the next step in the professional sports world, every NHL franchise should have a suitable building with top-notch amenities. Going to an NHL game isn’t just about sitting in a chair with a $9 beer and cheering on your favorite team. Fans want to be able to enjoy the entire experience, such as bars around the concourse of the arena, shops with team merch and trinkets from the local area, and most importantly, an area around the arena that is full of nightlife and amenities to make the trip to a game more enjoyable.