New arena in Victoria Park will need public-private partnership, says CMLC boss

The head of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation predicts the path to a new arena in Victoria Park will be through a public-private partnership.

Michael Brown says arena and expanded BMO Centre will entice more private developers

This conceptual drawing of a new hockey arena in Victoria Park is from the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which owns the Calgary Flames. Although Mayor Nenshi doesn't know when we be able to return to big gatherings of 20,000 people, he believes it will be sooner rather than later. (Rossetti/Calgary Flames)

The head of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation predicts the path to a new arena in Victoria Park will be through a public-private partnership.

Michael Brown, CEO of the city agency that's overseeing the redevelopment of Victoria Park, spoke at an infrastructure conference in Calgary on Thursday.

Brown said a new hockey arena funded jointly by the city and the Calgary Flames — combined with an expanded BMO convention centre — would act as catalysts for drawing other development in to Victoria Park.

"The reality is, for us, we want to build out that community and we want to attract other private sector players — residential towers, hotels," he said.

But without that initial public-private initial partnership, it may take much longer to develop the area, he said.

This is the view of the proposed hockey arena from 14th Avenue S.E. (Rossetti/Calgary Flames)

"What do we need to get this done? I think obviously that the dialogue that we've had as a community is more centred around doing it in a partnership form," he said.

"There's always examples out there of, you know, where cities have built it all themselves or the private sector has built it all themselves. But the approach that we've taken currently is to look at a partnership push."

City council will discuss its negotiating position on an arena deal at its meeting on Monday.

If council supports it, talks with the Flames on a funding arrangement are expected to start as soon as possible.

Late last year, Brown told a city council committee the price range for a new, 20,000-seat arena would be $550 million to $600 million, based on the building concept provided by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), the company that owns the Flames.

City manager Jeff Fielding said the city has $300 million in cash available. It could also take on new debt for a major new community project.

The city can also use money from the community revitalization levy, which comes from tax revenues generated in the Rivers District, which includes Victoria Park.

Earlier talks between the city and CSEC collapsed in 2017. 

With files from Scott Dippel


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