Alberta municipal affairs minister not ruling out cash for Calgary arena

Gary Bettman spoke with Roger Millions about building a new arena in Calgary, and why it’s important for the city and the Flames.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s municipal affairs minister says she’s not inclined to use taxpayer money for a new professional sports complex in Calgary, but she’s not closing the door either.

Danielle Larivee says she wants to see how the numbers and projections play out on the project.

“I’m watching it with interest and waiting to see if they decide it’s a more viable project going ahead, and we”ll see what they ask for,“ Larivee said Monday. ”As the specifics come to light, then we can talk about it.

“I don’t know that I’m leaning really strongly in that direction (to contribute public money), but I have not shut the door on that.”

The proposed public-private partnership would see an $890-million downtown sports centre with a new rink for the NHL Calgary Flames and a new stadium for the CFL Calgary Stampeders.

The city is currently crunching numbers with a report due this spring.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in Calgary last week, urged the city to get moving on the project. He said lack of an updated hockey arena could cost Calgary the chance to hold events such as the league's draft and its all-star game.

Bettman's comments drew a sarcastic response from Calgary Mayor Naheed Neshi, who said: ``I know that Calgarians require very wealthy people from New York to come and tell us what we need to do in our community, because they understand vibrancy better than we do.''

The city will continue a thorough analysis of the numbers, the mayor said.

The proposal is for the project to be funded through a $250-million ticket tax, a $240-million community revitalization levy, $200 million from Calgary Flames Sports and Entertainment and $200 million from city taxpayers.

The complex would include a 20,000-seat arena and a 30,000-seat football stadium.

The Scotiabank Saddledome, built in 1983, is one of the oldest arenas in the National Hockey League.

In Edmonton, a new 18,641-seat downtown arena where the Oilers will play is to be ready this fall for the 2016-17 NHL season.