Kenney blames city of Calgary after arena deal with Flames collapses

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks after the UCP (United Conservative Party) annual meeting in Calgary on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (Larry MacDougal/CP)

CALGARY — The company that owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames says an agreement with the city on the construction of a new arena to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome has been terminated.

Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation said in a news release Tuesday that the agreement was ended when neither the city nor SCEC waived "construction conditions" by Friday.

Premier Jason Kenney said during a news conference later in the day that he was "disappointed that the City of Calgary decided to change the deal at the last minute."

The termination of the agreement was expected after CSEC notified the city on Dec. 21 of its intent to pull out of the deal

The city and the Flames agreed on an arena deal more than two years ago with the initial estimate of $550 million split between the two.

The cost estimate for the project had risen to $634 million.

The Flames balked at additional costs for roadway and sidewalk infrastructure and climate mitigation the city added to the project since July.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who was elected in October, said in December that there was a gap of $9.7 million between the city and the team.

CSEC president and chief executive officer John Bean has said his company’s share of the new total would be $346.5 million compared to the city’s $287.5 million, and said the Flames bear the risk of rising costs in the future.

Kenney called it regrettable that the city added costs to a project that was already seeing construction inflation.

"Before Christmas, I spent about four days promoting investment in Alberta," he said. "One of the big selling advantages was our high quality of life and our relatively low cost of living.

"One of the aspects that I featured in that selling pitch was all of the great new amenities being built here."

That, he said, included the new arena in Calgary.

"I do think it’s part of the broader package of an effort to get Calgary’s mojo back, to get people moving here and to bring investment here — it’s to have world-class facilities," he said. "I was encouraged that the city and the owners’ group had come to an agreement and I think it’s very regrettable that the city decided at the last minute to change the parameters.

"I just hope that they can reconsider and get shovels in the ground as soon as possible. The project itself would help to create jobs, which are much needed in the city."


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