Talks on a new arena on hold, but the debate among Calgarians going full blast

While the debate continues about a new arena for the Calgary Flames, so does the controversy around the cost and who will pay for the new building.

Proposals from both the Flames ownership and the City of Calgary, have been made, and rejected by the other side.

Shane Potts, a Calgary Flames fan, thinks that the newest offer from the team’s ownership is the best option for the new arena at this point.

The offer from the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), which was released on Sept. 21, included $275 million up front from the CSEC and the remaining $225 million coming from a Community Revitalisation Levy.

The city did not agree with this offer, leaving the debate at a standstill and the issue at a pause for now.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi offered a one third each deal, which included a third of the cost coming from the city, another third from the Flames ownership, and another third coming from users of the arena.

The users would be paying a total of $185 million in ticket surcharges in the end.

“Are people going to be hit twice?” said Potts. “Are they going to pay extra taxes and then pay extra duties?”

On the other hand though, Potts also said he doesn’t think it would be fair for basically all of the revenue that the ownership would generate from their latest proposal to go to them.

“I don’t agree with how the Flames are approaching this,” said Potts.

“They’re a multi-billion-dollar company, but they’re looking for handouts from the city to do something that’s entertaining for the high earners in the city.”

Potts said as long as they can get to some kind of agreement and get it done, he will be pleased.

Justin Reid, former Calgarian and Flames fan, thinks that regardless of the deal, Calgary needs a new arena.

Reid lives in Toronto now and enjoys the Air Canada Centre a lot when he goes to events held there.

He notices a huge difference in the experience, compared to his past visits to the ScotiaBank Saddledome.

“Calgarians need to get off the wallet a little and pay to get some good entertainment,” said Reid.

Devyn Killian, a Flames fan and avid concertgoer, said the city desperately needs a new facility.

“Now that the cities around us like Edmonton have new and bigger arenas, performers have been skipping out on Calgary,” said Killian.

James Feddema, a fan of the Flames but not of Calgary city council, said he doesn’t think the city is good at negotiating things like this.

“Nenshi and the city are just not good at negotiating anything, it’s not just this,” said Feddema.

“Multiple groups have walked away from the city because they can’t negotiate a fair deal.

“I feel like it will have a bit of sway on the election, but at the same time Calgary loves Nenshi so I don’t know,” said Feddema.

A suggestion was put on the table by Alex Columbos, a candidate for city council for Ward 6 in the civic election, that Calgary should consider what Regina did in developing a new stadium for the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team.

The Roughriders sold public shares for fans to purchase and invest in the stadium.

The city has not commented on that suggestion yet, but some fans like the idea.

“I think that’s a fantastic idea actually,” said Potts.

“Why can’t they pass on some of that success to the people who have supported them for years.”

“If I’m a supporter of the Flames, why shouldn’t I get a little something back for helping build a legacy here,” said Potts.

Saddledome Squabble: The Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The Calgary Flames may soon have a new arena to play at. We will find out more when the city and The Flames come to a decision on the details of the new arena. (Photo by Natalie Galarnyk/The Press)
About Natalie Galarnyk 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Natalie Galarnyk worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.