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Volume 26 No. 232
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Calgary City Council Votes To Approve Deal For New Flames Arena

The Calgary City Council voted to approve a financial agreement with the owners of the Flames to "build an event centre and replace the 36-year-old Saddledome," with the cost of the $550M (all figures C) venue to be equally split between the city and Calgary Sports & Entertainment, according to Donna Spencer of the CP. The 35-year agreement "keeps the Flames in Calgary for that term, with options to extend the agreement." Calgary vows municipal property taxes will "not increase to pay for the event centre." CSE Vice Chair & CEO Ken King estimated it will "likely take three or four years to complete the arena once construction starts." CSE is "putting up the same amount of up-front cash it was prepared to give two years ago" -- $275M. One major difference in the current deal is the Flames will "not pay property tax as the city proposed two years ago." The city will "own the building." CSE has "agreed to hand over" 2% from every ticket sold at the new venue to the city as a "facility fee, which is estimated to bring in" $155.1M over 35 years. All revenues "generated by the event centre" go to CSE, "minus its commitment to the city." The Flames "will be responsible for the operation, maintenance and day-to-day repairs of the event centre." CSE has also "committed to upping its contribution to local sport groups," which the city says amounts to $75M over the course of the 35-year term (CP, 7/30).

FAIR DEAL: King said of the approved deal, "Of course we’re happy for Calgary. But I think the most fun will be proving to the city of Calgary that we can exceed their expectations, that this really is a great deal and we'll overachieve." Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that the city's deal "stacks up well against similar deals in other Canadian and mid-size American markets" (CALGARY HERALD, 7/31). CBC NEWS' Drew Anderson noted Calgarians were "only given seven days to provide feedback" on the arena deal that was announced last week. Over 5,200 residents "submitted their views" on the agreement (CBC.ca, 7/30). In Calgary, Don Braid writes, "Half the city is happy, the rest furious. So it is with these projects." There is the "sense that Calgary is rolling again" (CALGARY HERALD, 7/31).