Development on the Calgary Flames' new arena in downtown Calgary have been halted due to a $70 million difference in budget and building requirements the city-owned Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) announced yesterday.
The CMLC is overseeing construction of the $550 million project, which was agreed upon in 2019. Now though, reports are that the Flames are asking the city, the tax payers in effect, for an addition $70 million to complete the project as planned.
"At this early stage in the project, there is a difference in the current budget estimate and the program requirements for the facility," said Kate Thompson, president and CEO of CMLC.
"Given the significance and importance of the project, the parties have jointly agreed to pause the project team to allow time to resolve these challenges. The decision to take this pause is the responsible and prudent approach to ensure we find the best solutions to move the project forward successfully, without incurring any additional costs on the project while these discussions progress. The team is working collaboratively to find a suitable path forward"
With a mayoral election slated for this Fall in Calgary, the issue of replacing the Flames' 38 year old Scotiabank Saddledome with a new arena could get political.
"I didn't support the arena projects because of the unrealistic budgets and the very real chance of taxpayers being on the hook for cost overruns," said Councilman Jeromy Farkas, who is running for mayor and who voted against the arena deal when it was before council in 2019. "And it looks like the budget's already been blown through," he concluded.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who is not seeking re-election, has a different view though. "Far better to have these issues sorted out at this stage than to have unexpected cost overruns after construction has begun," he said in a statement.
Ah... politics... buckle up, Calgarians... this ride could get bumpy again.