Moving Forward on an Event Centre and Culture and Entertainment District

Calgarians want a vision for the future. This week, it became clear that this vision doesn’t include a 2026 Olympic Bid. While I believed that the proposed deal was a good deal, I also believe the right decision was to let Calgarians decide what was best. Ultimately, Calgarians voted no – and that’s okay.

Now, we need to move forward. There are big challenges facing our City: we have a downtown office tax problem – a hole that has grown to $89 Million. Inflation and growth continue to affect the City’s bottom line. A large portion of our property tax goes to the Province – dollars which don’t come back to our communities in an equitable way. The situation is far from ideal, and there is no overnight fix – these problems have been building for years.

We need long-term solutions.

Today, I am proposing one potential solution to these issues. We need to grow our revenues in a sustainable way, while growing our City.  I believe that investing in a new Culture and Entertainment District, anchored by a multi-use Event Centre, is one way to do it. I propose a District that will provide benefit to all Calgarians.

The Event Centre is more than a hockey deal, it is a deal that would see the development of the new Culture and Entertainment District for Calgary. Primed with approximately $3B worth of private investment, the District, upon build-out could generate over $100 million in tax revenue each year.

A new District would attract desperately needed business investment back into our downtown. This new investment would then generate significant revenues for the City – enough to offset our downtown tax problem. In addition, this new district could become a new gathering place in our community – one that celebrates music, entertainment, sport and more.

When you consider our downtown tax problem is at now $89 million - it is vital we stop kicking the can down the road and start to look at strategic ways of creating lasting value and legacy. Our economy won't shift anytime soon. We need, as a city, to start thinking about key investments that yields solid returns.  

Significant work is being done on this file. Last month, we presented Calgarians concept images of what we envisioned. Engagement is taking place – over 6,000 Calgarians have already had their say on our vision, and over 120,000 pieces of information have been collected. We are committed to working with the Calgary Community on realizing this vision, and are actively working to engage key partners.

I’m moving forward on my vision for a new Event Centre and Culture and Entertainment District – and I ask you to join me. Contact my Office today, and let me know what you think.

Our public presentation on our vision can be found here:

https://pub-calgary.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=69249

I look forward to your thoughts,

Best,

Jeff Davison

Councillor - Ward 6

Regarding Event Centre Discussions and the Olympic Bid

On Tuesday, September 11, the Calgary2026 Bid Corporation presented their draft vision to Council for what the 2026 Calgary Olympics and Paralympics could look like. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to Calgary2026 under the direction of CEO Mary Moran and the City of Calgary’s Secretariat for the incredible work they have done under very constrained timelines. Whether you are for or against the Olympics, these groups are working incredibly hard for every Calgarian to ensure you will have all the information available in order to make an educated vote in the plebiscite.

Now, to the specifics.

A key feature of the draft plan was a rough funding outline, as well as a draft venue plan. It is important to note that the plan, as proposed, meets the bare requirements for what is needed to host the Games.

Calgary2026 was tasked with creating a plan that first and foremost, considers cost control as a critical priority. At no time will I, or Council, make this a “games at any cost.”  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Calgary2026 proposed to refurbish much of the venues and infrastructure that Calgary already has – the Saddledome for example. It is also worth noting that many Calgarians were rightfully concerned when a large arena was not included in the plan, yet it included the construction of a new 5,000 – 6,000 seat mid-sized arena.

So, what does this mean?

What was proposed was a draft plan – that is very important to remember. During questions by Council, Calgary2026 CEO Mary Moran confirmed that we are a long way, years in fact, from finalizing a venue plan. This is poignant for the committee that I head, the Event Centre Assessment Committee because it gives us the opportunity to also explore a new Event Centre within the context of a potential Calgary bid.

As a cost consideration across civic priorities, would it be cheaper to create a new facility, with two arenas in it: A large, NHL-sized facility, connected to a smaller, 6,000 seat venue? Could this mega-facility, a true Event Centre, meet the principles and criteria of the Event Centre Assessment Committee? This is a conversation worth pursuing – and I can assure you, that conversation is happening.

With that said, I remind everyone that any proposed Event Centre must have legs to stand on its own. Olympics or not, the lack of a modern facility in Calgary deprives us of the economic and social benefit of a thriving entertainment district. Therefore, Olympics or not, I will continue to pursue the options for a new venue for Calgary.

Whether a new facility fits within the context of the Olympics is to be determined; but, the events of this week indicate it is a possibility.