Nenshi responds to Flames ending arena talks; calls City offer reasonable

An ice-cleaning machine floods the ice as preparations proceed for the start of a shortened NHL season at the Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

Lucas Meyer, Jason Markusoff and Mike Lumsden

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi defended the offer the city was willing to make on a new hockey arena with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, a day after the Flames announced they were ending negotiations.

“The city has a very fair offer on the table, I think one that many Calgarians will see, most Calgarians will see as eminently reasonable,” he said Wednesday. “There is another offer on the table that most Calgarians will see as eminently unreasonable.

Before Nenshi spoke to media, Calgary city council voted 8-4 to authorize Nenshi to release details from arena negotiations; details Nenshi said would be made public in the coming days.

The two sides even differ on the actual price tag: the Flames peg the arena cost at roughly $500 million, while the City estimates something higher, once you add in directly related construction needs.

Rogers Arena in Edmonton totaled just under $614 million.

The city offered to pay one-third of the cost, which would have to be repaid, while a ticket surcharge would pay for another third and the final third by the CSEC, sources said.

One source also said the Flames wanted the building property tax and rent free, a major sticking point for the city.

Nenshi wouldn’t go into details, but did say the three-way split was at the base of the offer.

“It is part of the deal, it is important I think to see all of the details,” he said.

On Tuesday, Flames CEO Ken King said meetings with the city had been spectacularly unproductive.

“I thought we really had something that would work and it would seem pretty clear that it’s not,” he said.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said without a new building, there would be consequences all sides would have to deal with and also questioned the city’s commitment to a deal.

He did not go into financial details of what each side was asking for.

“That would entail negotiation, negotiations are over,” he said. “They’re not pursuing a new building, they’ll play out the string here for as long as they can.”

Nenshi also responded to the suggestion the move was politically motivated, given the municipal election is just over a month away.

“I heard on the radio this morning Mr. King saying how could this have anything to do whatesoever with the fact that there’s an election coming,” he said. “I’ll just have to take him at his word.”

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