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Calgary mayor says Flames intend to pull plug on Event Centre arena project

Calgary and the Flames originally agreed to terms in 2019 on deal to replace Scotiabank Saddledome
FILE - The Vancouver Canucks play the Calgary Flames as the first period beings in an empty arena in NHL hockey action in Calgary, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Mayor Jyoti Gondek says it appears the Calgary Flames intend to pull out of the multi-million dollar Event Centre arena complex project.

The mayor said in a series of tweets that Murray Edwards, chairman of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, informed her Tuesday that the Flames intended to “pull the plug on the deal.”

“We have come to the conclusion where the Event Centre deal is not moving forward,” Gondek said at a news conference.

“There was additional funding that had to be taken on by Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation. It appears that they are unable to make that financial commitment, following the approval of their development permit, so it would appear that they are ending the deal.”

Tuesday’s news comes after several stop-and-start years around the project. The city and the Calgary Flames originally agreed to terms in 2019 on the Event Centre that would replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Flames’ home since 1983.

The original estimate of $550 million to build the 19,000-seat arena was to be split between the city and the corporation, which owns the Flames, the Western Hockey League’s Hitmen, Canadian Football League’s Stampeders and National Lacrosse League’s Roughnecks.

But Gondek said some costs, including “climate mitigation” of $4 million and “road/sidewalk right of way issues” of $12 million were still being negotiated.

“The City came to the table to assist with $6.4m in roadways leaving $9.7m for the Flames,” Gondek posted. “Based on this gap of $9.7m, I am told CSEC is walking away from our deal.”

Gondek said she is disappointed that “on a project worth over $650m, to have one party walk away for 1.5 per cent of the value of the deal is staggering.”

“I wanted Calgarians to be the first to know. I am as disappointed as all of you that this is the way things are ending.”

The Flames did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Canadian Press.

A city website says the Event Centre will be a year-round, gathering place for Calgarians.

“It will be home to the Calgary Flames, Hitmen and Roughnecks and all who cheer them on. The venue will attract major sport events as well as some of the world’s leading performing artists, creating a hub for connecting community, entertainment and sport.”

— The Canadian Press