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CalgaryNext reveals initial plans, ideas for the Calgary Flames’ new arena

For years, we've heard next to nothing about the Flames' new arena, other than "details will be coming soon". Today, we got some of those details.



Let's be honest with ourselves: the Saddledome, home to three of Calgary's four sports teams, is a concrete husk. It's one of the oldest buildings still in use in the NHL, and despite earlier renovations – including the most recent necessary ones, courtesy of the 2013 flood – it needs an upgrade.

For that matter, so does McMahon Stadium, the home of Calgary's fourth sports team.

Well, at long last, CalgaryNext has gone public. We have details for the proposed new home of all four of Calgary's sports teams – among other things.

What is it?

The new home of the Flames will also be the new home of the Stampeders, Hitmen, Roughnecks, and for amateur and high level athletes everywhere. One of the city’s highest priorities has been to get a fieldhouse for some time now, and the Flames’ new home would play a part in that. Calgary wants more recreational facilities – and this would accomplish exactly that.

The building would be an integrated one, sharing fieldhouse, stadium, and event centre.

The event centre would be home to the Flames, Hitmen, and Roughnecks, just as the Saddledome is currently. It will have two rinks: the main rink, and a secondary rink that will be open to the public when the Flames aren't using it. This fits directly in line with the idea of the new building be open and available for the public's use – not just professional athletes.

It would also hold an estimated seating capacity of 19-20,000 – about what the Saddledome has now.

Then there's the stadium, which would house the Stampeders, and be a part of the fieldhouse. It would have a seating capacity of about 30,000, which is about the amount of people a regular season Stampeders game currently draws.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Fieldhouse facility at <a href="">#CalgaryNext</a> would include: CFL field, FIFA-sized soccer pitch, track and field, basketball/volleyball courts.</p>&mdash; Wes Gilbertson (@SUNGilbertson) <a href="">August 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The plan is to use retractable seating in order to avoid compromising CFL sight lines.

The stadium and fieldhouse will have a non-retractable roof, but one they hope to make translucent.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">retractable roof a no-go as it would add $150 million to the price tag.</p>&mdash; Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) <a href="">August 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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A three-year construction period is anticipated, but it could take five years before ground is even broken.

Where will it be?

Ken King stated they looked over every square inch of the city, and determined the best place for the new arena is in the West Village. You know where the Greyhound bus station is, along with car dealerships and the Pumphouse Theatre? Right there.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Interesring to note the 2 car dealerships have demolition clauses in their leases in West Village. In anticipation of a project like this.</p>&mdash; Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) <a href="">August 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The proposed area in West Village – which is, for the record, the only proposed area; Ken King emphatically stated "there is no Plan B" – is large enough for the proposed facilities, and already has connections to the existing walking and cycling paths, as well as the LRT.

They also wouldn't have to move the roads in West Village, which would cost an estimated $400 million. Parking may be an issue, but as King stated, it would encourage more train and pedestrian use, as well as possibly help with traffic congestion.

You can see the proposed area is right next to the river, but there's no need to be concerned about flooding: the building would be out of the floodplains, and in safer ground than the Saddledome currently is.

The final bit: it would be right next to where the creosote contamination is – an area nobody has yet touched, and an area CalgaryNext intends to for this project.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The site: <a href="">#CalgaryNEXT</a> will catalyze the redevelopment process and cleanup of the creosote, King says.</p>&mdash; Erika M. Stark (@erikamstark) <a href="">August 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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It's possible three levels of government are involved in the project thanks to the creosote cleanup. At this time, it's unclear what involvement the Flames would have, if any, in the cleanup.

How much?

The city owns the land, and it would own the proposed building, as well. And yes – the city would have to pay for some of the cost.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Breakdown of funding:&#10;$240-million CRL&#10;$200-million CSEC&#10;$200-million city field house&#10;$250 million ticket tax</p>&mdash; Kristen Odland (@KristenOdlandCH) <a href="">August 18, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The Flames themselves are offering to pay for just $200 million of what is an estimated $890 million project (and will, in almost all certainty, cost more thanks to the creosote cleanup at absolute minimum).

Mayor Naheed Nenshi is not down with that. In a statement, he wrote:

That said, he's intrigued by the project, but further negotiations are definitely going to have to happen.

What happens to the Saddledome? McMahon?

With new arenas and stadiums, the old would no longer be in use.

McMahon would almost certainly be torn down, but as the University of Calgary owns it, it's their call.

As for the Saddledome, it's right on Stampede park, an area that hosts several events throughout the year. There's no concrete plan for what becomes of the 'Dome just yet, but one idea King proposed was keeping the floor and utilizing it alongside the BMO Centre for combined exhibition and trade space.

As it stands though, these are conversations for a later date. For the foreseeable future – CalgaryNext is years away, after all – teams will still be playing out of the Saddledome and McMahon.

by Ari Yanover