Calgary recruits commercial real estate expertise to revive new arena
CALGARY — The city of Calgary has recruited citizens from the commercial real-estate sector to help get a new event centre and home for the Calgary Flames back on track.
When an agreement between the city and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the Flames, collapsed late last year, city council voted in January to get a third party involved.
John Fisher, Guy Huntingford and Phil Swift are tasked with determining whether the Flames still want to build an arena with the city, or if the city will have to look for other potential partners to build an event centre.
Fisher is executive vice-president of CBRE, Huntingford is director of strategic initiatives with NAIOP Calgary, and Swift is executive chairman of the Ayrshire Group investment firm.
“This team brings considerable expertise from the commercial real-estate industry including experience in larger development,” the city’s planning and development manager Stuart Dalgleish said Wednesday in an event centre committee meeting.
“The third party has spent considerable time understanding the items and interests behind the terminated agreement and the current landscape. These items have become clarified.
“Based on a meeting with both the city and CSEC, the next step is for the third party to make recommendations on a possible path forward.”
Dalgleish said there is no definitive commitment or timeline for a new agreement.
The city and the Flames agreed on an arena deal over two years ago with the initial estimate of $550 million split between the two.
Shovels were scheduled to hit the ground in 2022 for a 19,000-seat arena and concert venue replacing the Saddledome, which has been the home of the Flames for 39 years.
The cost estimate for the project rose to $634 million, however.
Since the two sides agreed to an amended deal last July, the city added an additional $19 million in roadwork and climate mitigation to the project, and wanted the Flames to pay for $10 million of that.
CSEC president John Bean said in December that the Flames were withdrawing from the agreement because of an accumulation of issues and increased financial risk.
“While CSEC was prepared to move forward in the face of escalating construction costs, and assume the unknown future construction cost risk, CSEC was not prepared to fund the infrastructure and climate costs that were introduced by the city following our July agreement … and are not included in the current cost estimate of $634 million,” Bean said then.
So the Flames remain in the Saddledome, which is the second-oldest NHL arena behind New York’s Madison Square Garden.
CSEC also owns the Western Hockey League’s Hitmen, Canadian Football League’s Stampeders and National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks.
The Flames recently announced they will move their American Hockey League affiliate from Stockton, Calif., to Calgary for the 2022-23 season.