Transcript: Remarks to the Press Regarding the Event Centre - January 24, 2019

Good morning. I want to thank you all for coming this morning, as we talk about an important project and an important decision facing Council. Of note I am joined here today by CMLC President Michael Brown and my colleague Jyoti Gondek.

I’m here to give you an update regarding the Entertainment and Cultural District – and more specifically, Calgary’s new Event Centre.

We’re at a critical juncture right now, and I think that this is the project that Council needs to focus on.

At a time when Calgary faces questions about how we will navigate the challenges of the next few decades, it is incumbent upon us to deliver on projects that demonstrate a proactive vision for our City’s future.

Calgary’s new Cultural and Entertainment District delivers that vision, and our new Event Centre is the project that makes it all possible.

I want to provide a bit of a timeline this morning as there are a few colleagues who have been recently heard saying “I’m not sure what this committee does”, or more directly, “this committee hasn’t done anything.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

For months, the Event Centre Assessment Committee has considered the merits of the Cultural and Entertainment District and Event Centre.

Thousands of Calgarians have been engaged and taken part in conversations over the past year where they have provided some great feedback.

This committee has assessed options regarding location, (West Village, McMahon, Firestone Park )- and has determined that the Victoria Park site best meets the needs of Calgary as it has the necessary infrastructure to move forward.

Victoria Park is where we have existing transit lines in the area, a proposed Green Line station, and there are significant road and intersection improvements already coming to the area. The 17th Ave connection, 5th avenue underpass and upgrades to Olympic Way, to name a few.

This work is important to understand as this is shared infrastructure unique to the Event Centre and BMO expansion. These are the only two projects facing Council that go hand in hand.

The committee has worked to understand the critical success factors for the incorporation of an Event Centre into Victoria Park. Those factors are:

  1. The Rivers District Master Plan

  2. Early Concepts of an Event Centre

  3. Adjacency to other community assets

Through our work we confirmed that the Event Centre would be a catalyst in the buildout of the Rivers District. On top of the economic benefits, investment, jobs and revenue it would create, the Event Centre is the anchor point in developing a cultural gathering place for all Calgarians.

We confirmed that it is critical that the Event Centre be so much more than a single use hockey arena. That the public spaces that are adjacent to the Event Centre are just as critical as the Event Centre itself – particularly given its proximity to Stampede Park and BMO expansion, the new Central Library and the National Music Centre.

Committee established a budget number for the construction of a new Event Centre and through engagement with industry, it was determined that the cost of a new Event Centre would be up to $600 million.  

We have engaged Calgary Economic Development and Ernst & Young to understand the return on investment around the build out of key civic assets in the Rivers District, and the availability of these assets to attract follow on capital.

I am happy to report tomorrow at our committee meeting we will have completed the data gathering phase, and will be releasing the River’s District Economic Impact Study to the public.  Tomorrow, we’ll speak a bit more on that.

But what do we know overall right now?

Today I am prepared to make the following statement:

The Event Centre, coupled with the council approved BMO expansion will positively, and significantly, enhance the cultural density of our inner city and truly transform Victoria Park into a year-round premier gathering place for all Calgarians.

A place that, simply put, will define us as Calgarians.

We’ve talked about what we have done, now let’s talk next steps.

First:  Committee will have to accept the proposed workplan and refer it to Council on Monday for their endorsement.

We are operating under the assumption that there is a need for public participation in the funding of this project. Our next step is to engage Administration and confirm a source of funding for the project.

If Council then prioritizes this project on Monday, we would then return to Council and secure a mandate to develop a term sheet to be presented to Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation for their consideration.

I want to address the obvious question here: “have you talked to the Flames”?

I am prepared to confirm that we have had discussions with the Flames.

I can confirm today that we have had a number of high level talks with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, and we continue to have discussions. I tell you this – the discussions have productive, positive and extremely respectful of each other’s positions.

The fundamental of deal making here is that it is all based in foundation. Part of the success of the outcome is that we are building relationships, building trust and building confidence with our partners. This is critical in getting an equitable outcome in benefit of all Calgarians.

With that I will now take a few questions.