Tying the CalgaryNEXT arena and fieldhouse proposal to a possible bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics will be a gamble for the Calgary Flames organization, said members of a CBC Calgary News at 6 political panel.

One of the biggest reasons for that, said Corey Hogan, a former executive director of the Alberta Liberal Party, is the fact he thinks a 2026 Olympic bid will likely fail.

"If you make your project so tied to the Olympics, when the Olympics go down, and they will go down because we're not going to take the $50 billion price tag for security ... when they go down, your project will go down with it," Hogan said.

"The fact of the matter is [CalgaryNEXT] is going to have to sink or swim on its own and right now it's floundering."

The Flames have proposed an $1.3 billion project that will see an arena and fieldhouse built at the west end of downtown but it requires hundreds of millions in public funding, which will be a much tougher ask than in Edmonton, where a new, partially taxpayer-funded arena is under construction, said Maclean's writer Jason Markusoff.

"And we don't need our downtown developed," he said.

"The big plug in Edmonton was the downtown needs a spark and this will give it a spark. Our downtown still has way more cranes, even despite this downturn, than Edmonton's does."


Artist's rendering of the proposed CalgaryNEXT project. (The Canadian Press)

Calgary will get a new arena, said campaign strategist Stephen Carter, and the possible Olympic bid could be a way to make it more palatable for taxpayers.

"The question is, do you need a fieldhouse to host the Olympics and there's no way this fieldhouse is going to get built in the way [Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation CEO] Ken King is envisioning at this particular moment, that's in part because they've overreached."

With files from CBC Calgary News at 6