Future role in arena project uncertain, says Calgary Municipal Land Corporation

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation is not involved in talks between the City of Calgary and the owners of the Flames on a new arena — in spite of being named the project manager on the build.

Project management in question, CMLC excluded from talks between city and Flames

This rendering by The Rapid Eye Movement shows the proposed events centre that would replace the Saddledome in Victoria Park in Calgary. (The Rapid Eye Movement/City of Calgary)

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) said Tuesday it is not involved in talks between the City of Calgary and the owners of the Flames on a new arena.

The city and the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) had previously signed an agreement on a new $550-million facility in Victoria Park.

The city-owned CMLC is an agency that oversees the redevelopment of the Rivers District, and is set to manage the construction of the project.

However, the arena is on hold because of unspecified budget problems, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday it appears construction will not start on Aug. 1 as planned.

The chair of CMLC board, Randy Magnussen, told city council that he hopes it maintains its role as project manager — however, it will depend on how discussions between the city and the CSEC progress.

"If, in fact, we move forward as the development manager or project manager, we want to try and make sure that we've covered all the bases that are important to us," Magnussen said.

"At this point in time in the negotiations, those aren't being discussed, and if and when they are discussed, we'll push hard to try and get our views put forward."

'We're not at the table'

Clare LePan, vice-president of marketing and communications for CMLC, told CBC News on Tuesday that after meeting to discuss the arena in April, the next step was having the city and CSEC proceed with discussions to resolve budget-related challenges.

However, as those talks have yet to yield a resolution, the CMLC's integrated project team has remained supportive of both parties — but withheld direct involvement in the negotiations.

"CMLC's role on the project as development manager is to steward the project on behalf of the two partners," LePan said.

"But given that they had ongoing discussions, and still have ongoing discussions, on what the resolution to those items will be … we're not at the table from a negotiation standpoint between the two groups."

LePan said specific details about the project have not been disclosed to the CMLC.

"That is held between the city and CSEC," LePan said.

Update on arena talks coming next week, says Nenshi

Meanwhile, Nenshi said it wouldn't make sense for the CMLC to weigh in on the negotiations in the first place.

"It would be inappropriate for them to be there because they're the development manager, so they have to work for both parties," Nenshi said.

"And so they can't be negotiating on the basis of one party or the other, as far as I'm concerned."

Coun. Druh Farrell said that because the CMLC has a track record of delivering major projects like the downtown library on time and on budget, she hopes the agency stays involved in the arena project.

"I would feel far more comfortable with this project if CMLC was the project manager," Farrell said.

"You've proven yourself on some very complicated projects like the National Music Centre and the [Central Library]."

Nenshi said an update on the arena talks will go to city council next week.

With files from Scott Dippel and Drew Anderson


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