Calgary’s new arena is a growing dumpster fire
This week, we learned that Calgary’s bungled new arena arrangement is on the verge of going from a publicly funded billionaire bailout to a publicly funded, potentially privately managed billionaire bailout. According to reports, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation’s (CMLC) role in the future of the $550-million arena is now uncertain as the billionaire Flames owners attempt to wrestle public oversight away from Calgary’s highly reputable development managers in secret backroom negotiations with the City.
The news comes hot on the heels of a secret arena land deal that could see taxpayers on the hook for as much as $63-million above the $290-million public subsidy to the billionaire Flames owners.
CMLC has a proven track record
The New Central Library is but one of CMLC’s many successes managing public dollars on major transformational city-shaping projects.
The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the City of Calgary with a proven track record for leading major works of urban development and public infrastructure. Their list of successes includes the redevelopment of the East Village, Calgary’s New Central Library and St Patrick’s Island while they currently are leading visionary work in Calgary on the Arts Commons Transformation, East Victoria Park Redevelopment, BMO Centre Expansion and 17th Avenue SE Extension into Stampede.
They have been remarkable stewards of public dollars delivering projects with high return on investment to the citizens of Calgary. Not to mention, they spearheaded all the public engagement for Calgary’s Cultural & Entertainment District that was used by proponents of the new arena to justify City Council's lightning fast 7-day public engagement on the project.
But for some reason, the Flames owners now want CMLC off the new arena project so that they can manage the $290-million public subsidy for the (publicly-owned) arena all to themselves.
Red flags: Flames owners' actions suggest gross incompetence and lack of transparency
Leaked information indicates the billionaire Flames owners might not have properly measured the new arena site or checked their own budget in the rush to sneak the controversial $290-million arena subsidy past Calgarians in the peak of summer in July 2019.
Calgarians should be very wary of handing the project management of a publicly funded, publicly owned asset over to private billionaires. The Calgary Flames ownership has zero experience in real-estate development, let alone major public works projects. In fact, their actions to date should raise some serious red flags for Calgarians.
In April, it was revealed that the Flames owners are asking City Council for an additional $70-million subsidy (in addition to the current $290-million taxpayer subsidy) for the arena and more free land from the City to build the project. For something that had been pitched to Calgarians as a project that had been in the works for years it would seem to indicate a sign of gross incompetence that the Flames ownership would plan a new arena for themselves without properly measuring the size of the proposed site or doing a basic check of their own budget.
Furthermore, rather than being open with Calgarians about their new demands, they are now trying to negotiate a sweeter deal for themselves with City Council in private behind closed doors, two years after the agreement was signed.
City Council must put the new arena on ice
1) Sign the Petition - Join us in calling on City Council to pause the $290-million taxpayer subsidy to the over-budget arena until they can properly engage Calgarians on where best to reinvest these public dollars.
2) Share this post with your friends and family and let them know that the broken arena “deal” can and must be stopped until Calgarians are made aware of the full costs. (Facebook, Twitter)
Power Play: Professional Hockey and the Politics of Urban Development By Jay Scherer, David Mills and Linda Sloan McCulloch