Calgary council votes for new event center deal. 3rd party will be used to gauge CSEC interest

Calgary city council voted unanimously Wednesday to keep working on a new event centre while directing administration to determine whether the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) would be interested in re-entering discussions.

Council met Wednesday night to discuss the collapsed deal for a downtown arena. The council emerged from an hour-long closed door meeting shortly after ten o’clock p.m. to discuss next steps.

Council also gave the authority to city administration to determine if there are other interested parties in partnering with them. The event centre assessment panel has been reestablished.

At the March 8th meeting, council will receive the results of this decision.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the lengthy meeting of council was important to lay out a timeline for the public.

Gondek stated, “I believe it is a great method to ensure everyone is getting the right out of an agreement or a partnership by making certain there is a third party at the table so that both interests can be well-served.”

“There could be more than two parties at this point, given the direction we’ve given.”

Construction on the $600-million arena in Victoria Park was supposed to start in early 2022 but was terminated Jan. 1 after CSEC walked away from the project due to rising costs.

“[This]Coun. Peter Demong. “Whether it’s brand-new construction or renovation of an existing one.” 

Prior to the vote on Wednesday, council was provided with a detailed report and clarity on a number of items.

Clarity and costs

Before the termination of the agreement, it was estimated that both parties had spent between $20 million and $25 millions.

Council heard an update on that figure during Wednesday’s meeting, with the number pegged at $23 million to $24 million. The final figure will be determined.

It was revealed in July 2021 the deal was nearly $60 million over budget.

During the summer, the city and the CSEC agreed to pay an additional $12.5 million for the arena, with the Flames owners group agreeing to cover any more cost overruns.

The city paid for reconstruction costs around the arena site. However, it was not able to cover the cost of replacement sidewalks. 

On Wednesday, Coun. Peter Demong asked whether the city’s climate emergency declaration was a factor in the demise of the deal.

A member from the city’s planning committee stated that it wasn’t a factor. He added that climate provisions were built on older policies.

Gondek stated Wednesday that the new deal would take into consideration the changing economic landscape in Calgary as of now and not in 2019, when the last agreement was signed.

“Many of our delays on the event center moving forward were due to supply chain, had logistics, and had to deal with economic conditions that were completely beyond the control of both parties,” she stated.

“We have the opportunity to rethink what a partnership looks like moving forward and we can do this in a way that recognizes we are in a completely different economic environment.”

Gondek couldn’t say who the potential partners for funding a new arena, other than the Flames owners.