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Saddledome sweet home for Flames as new arena deal flatlines

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It looks like the Calgary Flames will be calling the unique but ancient Saddledome home longer than they expected. John Bean, president and CEO of the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation, spoke on Wednesday about the dissolving agreement between Flames ownership and the City of Calgary.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jyoti Gondek announced owner Murray Edwards informed her they were going to pull out of the Calgary Event Centre deal on Tuesday evening.

Because of the way it all went down, the two parties separately announced this decision ahead of a pre-determined joint announcement scheduled for Dec. 23, which was their deadline for dissolution before breaking ground. And it seems like about $12 million (the CSEC’s share of $19M introduced for climate resilience and roadway improvement) might have been the difference between breaking ground and breaking the deal.

“Unfortunately, as the City and CSEC have been unable to resolve some fairly significant cost issues, CSEC has determined there is no viable path forward,” said Bean. “While not ideal for Calgarians, nor competitively for the Flames, CSEC’s intentions are to remain in the Scotiabank Saddledome.”

Gondek, who spoke after Bean’s availability, said the costs should not have been surprising.

Mayor says costs shouldn’t have been a surprise to Calgary Flames ownership

“Climate is something that is considered. Roadways, public realm improvements, are considered,” she said.

She also suggested the renewable and low carbon energy study requirement was laid out in December 2020.

According to Gondek, the need for roads and sidewalks was also discussed throughout the year.

“It was well known to Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation what the climate mitigation expectations were on this project. We are insisting on things like sidewalks because you need them for a good public realm experience.”

The home of the Flames, Stampeders, Roughnecks and Hitmen was already costing CSEC more than the original deal, said Bean. According to him, the July deal had CSEC contributing $346.5 million compared to the city’s $247.5 million. He also said it wasn’t just the final tally that was of concern, leading them to their final decision.

“No one makes a decision this large on one particular data point, it’s a culmination of issues,” Bean said.

“Cost increase was one. We accepted future risk. This wasn’t us looking for a way out. At the end of the day everyone’s disappointed.”

Disappointment was everywhere as the NHL also cancelled player participation in the upcoming Olympics.

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