The Calgary Flames won’t play in the Saddledome (above) much longer if their proposed $890 million hockey arena and associated fieldhouse/stadium gets built.
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Flames CEO Ken King showed off the massive project which includes a new 18,000-seat NHL arena that would be built in conjunction with a public fieldhouse that can double—with the use of retractable seats—as a stadium for CFL football. Besides the new rink for the Flames, the arena portion of the project would include 20,000 seats for concerts and a space for professional lacrosse. The 1.4 million square foot community fieldhouse would house a full FIFA-sized soccer field and a running track.
CalgaryNEXT, with the help of Detroit’s Rossetti Architects, said the new arena will include suites, restaurants and a large lower bowl with brand-new technology in a design not yet seen in North America.
As Calgary’s neighbors in Edmonton continue to build their privately funded $480 million Rogers Place, which is expected to open for the Oilers in plenty of time for the 2016-17 season, the Flames offered up a solution to replace their 32-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome along with the city’s 55-year-old McMahon Stadium.
The entire project will be paid for with contributions of $200 million from the Flames’ ownership group, $250 million in ticket taxes, $240 million from a community revitalization levy, and $200 million from the city to fund the community fieldhouse. King said it will take three years to build once the planning, permitting and site contamination remediation activities—which could take up to two years—wrap up. Once the complex is built, the city would own it.
The proposed West Village site for this CalgaryNEXT project rests in central downtown on city-owned land near a bus station and auto dealerships. The bulk of the proposed location lies on the site of a former creosote plant that contaminated the land, keeping developers at bay. King called that seemingly unfortunate situation a “gift” as it kept the land available.
According to King, the Flames arena will not stand apart from the fieldhouse and CFL stadium, but will instead be a “fully integrated” project that must go hand-in-hand. Building the two separately would increase the price tag to $1.2 billion. Government officials must sign off before everything can proceed.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.