Coming up on a year since construction started on the Edmonton Oilers’ new home, Rogers Place, some Calgarians are wondering where our new arena is.
The Saddledome, now more than 30-years-old, was built for a city of about 600,000 people but today, Calgary’s population has doubled to 1.2 million.
Is it time for a new arena and, if so, where should it be built and who should pay for it?
“Our city is no longer a small one and with the amount of money that is generated from oil and gas in Calgary, I think that we need a new arena,” according to one Calgarian, Chris Schmitz.
“Hockey is a huge part of our identity but so are the bands and other events that come through town and it seems like Calgary is always getting skipped over whenever someone big is going on tour.
“We have the money and we want the shows. Why not build it?”
In recent months, the Calgary Flames have signalled that they will be making an announcement soon regarding a possible replacement for the ‘Dome, and that the new building will be ‘state-of-the-art’ and will be able to handle not only pro hockey but also any and all musical acts touring in the region.
But a majority of Calgary city council members are on record as opposing expenditure of any public money for such a structure.
Edmonton taxpayers contributed hundreds of millions to their new downtown arena, as a key piece of city’s downtown revitalization project.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, meanwhile, has said that he feels taxpayers should not be on the hook for such a project.
The other big issue is where a new arena for Calgary should be located. Speculation has ranged from Stampede Park, to the west end of downtown, to the edge of the city somewhere.
“Calgary has plenty of space all over. Whether it is within the city or just on the edge I think that there shouldn’t be a problem relocating,” said Ryan Morris, who regularly attends concerts at the Saddledome.
“My personal opinion on where it should be built is where the Big Four building currently sits,” said Morris.
“It is an old building and was hit hard last year by the flood.
“The C-Train runs directly behind it and would be a perfect place to connect transit to an arena,” he said.
“As for how it will be paid for, I think Calgary business owners and the city (municipality) can come up with the money or ways to make the money needed just as they did in Edmonton,” said Morris.
Flames season ticket holder, Alan Lanz says, “I have had my seats at the Saddledome for over 10 years now and in that time my wife and I have really noticed changes in the building.
“It is getting older and things need to constantly be fixed, plus the arena was just simply not built for so many people.
“The washrooms and concourse are terribly busy throughout games and events and I think that there needs to be a new place built somewhere in the city that can comfortably accommodate people.”
…The (Saddledome) was just simply not built for so many people. – Alan Lanz
“I go to more concerts than I do hockey games and I believe that most Calgarians are the same,” said Chloe Drackett.
“I would not mind if we spent taxpayer’s money on a new arena because it is more than just a hockey rink. It is a community centre and whatever your tastes are the majority of Calgarians use it on a regular basis.
“No matter where or how it is paid for we need a new arena,” aid Drackett.