Canada’s “newspaper of record” doesn’t think too highly of the Calgary Flames’ plan to build a new arena.
Calgary, historically, hasn’t lacked for confidence. Now there’s a good opportunity for the city to prove its maturity by rejecting the latest proposal for an arena-stadium complex that would require a ludicrous amount of taxpayer support.
The owners of the Calgary Flames and Calgary Stampeders – who include three of Canada’s richest individuals – want to upgrade their aging venues and have brought forward plans for an $890-million development on an underused downtown site beside the Bow River.
The owners are willing to spend just $200-million of their own money on the project. They’re asking the city to ante up $200-million directly. A ticket tax (possibly financed by the city) would generate $250-million. Another $240-million would come from a so-called community development levy, which essentially means taxpayers would front the money and then somehow hope to get repaid through the increased economic activity in the regenerated arena-stadium district.
Just like it was for their provincial rivals in Edmonton, this is shaping up to be quite the political and P.R. battle for the Flames. Calgary’s mayor has already thrown cold water on the team’s big plan, saying that there are “very significant requirements for public funding” and that “there is currently no money.”
While the consensus is that an arena will get built somehow, someway, expect some testy negotiations before any deal is reached.