City has $109M for field house but needs cash from other governments

The City of Calgary has assembled $109 million to build a multisport field house but it will need other governments to chip in before any construction can start.

Council focusing on project to spur redevelopment of McMahon Stadium area

An artist's conception of the inside of a field house, with a green field and stands full of people.
A view of what the field house could look like inside, set up for summer activities. (Calgary 2026)

The City of Calgary has assembled $109 million to build a multisport field house but it will need other governments to chip in before any construction can start.

For more than a decade, the city has been planning a field house at the Foothills Athletic Park. It would be built on the site of the city's main baseball stadium.

A council committee has been working in recent years on plans for redevelopment of the park and has developed a concept plan for the area around McMahon Stadium.

That plan envisions new and renewed athletic facilities on the city-owned portion of that land while the University of Calgary would pursue plans for residential and commercial developments on the land it owns, which includes McMahon Stadium.

After a committee meeting Monday, the chair of the panel said the city's efforts will now focus on building the field house, which could be a catalyst for further developments in the area.

"It really does require a first mover, and so that's what the city is planning to do with moving forward with that field house," said Coun. Jasmine Mian.

"The overall beautiful vision for the Foothills Athletic Park area will take many years to realize, but we won't realize it unless we start somewhere."

Other governments needed

The city plan is based on a few moves.

Mian said it has to approach the federal and provincial governments to gauge their levels of interest in investing in the project.

As well, she said, administration will check with local sports organizations to ensure the plan for the multisport field house includes all the modern amenities they need.

The results of that consultation will go to the committee later this year.

A new field house is also viewed as key to drawing various national competitions to Calgary, something that will also benefit the local economy.

Mayor sees catalyst

Mayor Jyoti Gondek had praise Monday for the partner organizations looking at the future of the Foothills Athletic Park area, including the University of Calgary, the McMahon Stadium Society, Sport Calgary and Tourism Calgary.

She said trying to propel the project forward will help bring about the overall vision for the area.

"I think it's going to allow us to deliver that first critical piece of infrastructure that will trigger more investment," said Gondek.

City administration notes that the need for a indoor practice and play space in Calgary hasn't changed since a 2008 report. The field house project remains a top unfunded city infrastructure project.

Major projects list

In 2019, city council committed itself to moving forward on four major projects deemed important to the city's economic future.

The list includes the field house as well as expanding the BMO Centre at Stampede Park, building a new event centre to replace the Saddledome and expanding/renovating Arts Commons.

Construction on the $500-million BMO Centre expansion is well underway, the city is negotiating a new arena deal with the owners of the Calgary Flames and design work is advancing on the Arts Commons expansion.

The money set aside for the field house has come through budget allocations in recent years, including $20 million in last November's civic budget. 

There were estimates that a field house could cost up to $250 million, but a city official acknowledged Monday that a final price tag won't be known until a design is completed.


Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has worked for CBC News in a number of roles in several provinces. He's been a legislative reporter, a news reader, an assignment editor and a national reporter. When not at Calgary's city hall, it's still all politics, all the time.