Calgary

Ken King 'thrilled' council wants to talk about arena and stadium

The president and CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation said he's "thrilled" city council wants to meet with his organization to discuss new facilities after the future of a new arena and stadium project were called into question.

Council will meet with Flames owners by June after damning CalgaryNext report

Ken King, president and CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, is thrilled conversation continues around a new arena and stadium. (CBC)

The president and CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation said he's "thrilled" city council wants to meet with his organization to discuss new facilities after the future of a new arena and stadium project were called into question.

A report for council found the total cost of the CalgaryNext project in the West Village would hit $1.8 billion — almost twice what CSEC said in its initial proposal — with most of the cost borne by the city. The report said that cost made it unfeasible. 

"When the report first came out it looked very daunting, but I was hoping they would engage in the process and they asked all the right questions, I thought," said Ken King outside Calgary council chambers on Monday.

The West Village site is complex, specifically due to creosote contamination. The report said the costs of cleanup would be between $85 and $140 million, considerably less than some estimates which pegged it as high as $300 million. 

Cleanup of the site will eventually have to go forward with or without CalgaryNext.

'Financial proposal stands'

King said he's happy there's still a conversation happening and the city is willing to entertain a partnership, but his organization isn't willing to up its contribution to the project. 

"Our financial proposal stands for CalgaryNext. I think it's pretty clear what we thought was appropriate and I think it was pretty unprecedented what we had determined was appropriate, and so I think that can stand on its merit," he said.

City council said it's willing to look at alternative sites for a new arena but it also wants to hear directly from the company that owns the Flames, Hitmen, Stampeders and Roughnecks about this report and will meet with CSEC by June.

Some of the other options include an arena in Stampede Park and revamping the existing McMahon Stadium rather than building a new facility.

'Public will often moves political will'

King said his organization is willing to entertain alternatives, but he wants that process to run in tandem with the CalgaryNext proposal "so that ultimately perhaps the public can forge their own views and we know the public will often moves political will."

Mayor Naheed Nenshi isn't convinced the project as it exists can overcome the obstacles in its path, but he's happy to see a conversation around alternatives. 

"Calgarians have been pretty clear that they would like to see better facilities, but they've also been pretty clear that public money has to go for public benefit and the real issue there is to square this circle and see if we can put those two things together," he said. 

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