Event Centre - Frequently Asked Questions

In response to concerns about due diligence and process on the Event Centre file, the Event Centre Assessment Committee has prepared the following FAQs sheet.

What due diligence has the Committee done on this file?

Since June, the Event Centre Assessment Committee has been assessing the potential for a new Event Centre within a Cultural and Entertainment District, and has done significant due diligence on the file.

We have considered a new District within the greater context of the Rivers’ District Master Plan. Thousands of Calgarians have been consulted and engaged on the file.

The Committee also looked at the economic impact of a new facility along with the other major capital projects in the new district and has considered concept drawings, demo costs, land appraisals and more.

The majority of this information is public and is available here: http://www.calgary.ca/CA/city-clerks/Pages/Legislative-services/Agenda-Minutes.aspx

What are the Event Centre Assessment Committees’ responsibilities that were approved by City Council? 

The responsibilities of the Event Centre Assessment Committee are:

  1. Build upon past work that has been done in relation to this initiative;

  2. Identify key opportunities, issues, risks and concerns;

  3. Identify, consult and collaborate with key internal and external stakeholders;

  4. Explore options with respect to a location that fits the long-term strategic development goals and initiatives of The City;

  5. Pursue existing options and any new opportunities to develop a financing and funding framework; and,

  6. Return to Council with a formal recommendation(s)

Why do you keep using the term “Event Centre” as opposed to arena?

Inherently, there is a difference between an event centre and an arena. The term “arena” implies a single-use hockey facility, with occasional concerts and events – located in primarily isolated areas with no amenities around them. Take for example the Saddledome – it is used roughly 100 nights per year and is in a relatively isolated part of our downtown with minimal restaurants, bars and other amenities adjacent to it.

In comparison, the Event Centre Assessment Committee envisions a multi-use space that can be programmed at higher volume throughout the year. Our vision is to create a space that is readily accessible, integrated into the community and is busy every night. The adjacent outdoor amenities around the Event Centre are as important as the venue itself – which is why we believe that the Event Centre is one component of a greater Cultural and Entertainment District. This is the vision that is guiding our Committee’s work.

Why is Victoria Park the best location for a new Event Centre?

Throughout this process, the Event Centre Assessment Committee looked at various locations. Victoria Park made the most sense for the following reasons:

Location: The proposed site of the new Event Centre is within walking distance to the Stampede grounds, the BMO Centre, Arts Commons, the new Central Library and the National Music Centre. The Committee believes that the location is appropriate given the cultural attractions already in the area. An Event Centre and Cultural and Entertainment District will add to the cultural density of the area.

Accessibility: The Victoria Park location is accessible to the Red and Blue line of the LRT and will be accessible to the new Green Line, with a new station proposed only one block away. Moreover, the City of Calgary has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure and local area enhancements in this space over the last 10 years.

Have Calgarians been asked about this issue?

Yes. Almost immediately, the Committee tasked Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) to engage with Calgarians on the topic of an Event Centre within the greater context of the Rivers’ District Master Plan. CMLC held engagements at various events across the City. In the end, over 6,000 Calgarians have been engaged on the issue, and over 120,000 pieces of information have been collected. To state that no public consultation has occurred on this issue is simply not true.

Have you considered the economic case for an Event Centre and Cultural and Entertainment District?

Yes. Ernst & Young prepared an Economic Impact Assessment on the full build out of the Cultural and Entertainment District, which included the Event Centre, BMO Convention Centre Expansion and Arts Commons redevelopment.

The study found that the Event Centre, when coupled with the BMO Expansion, would be a catalyst for the district, concluding the following: “Having gathered the appropriate data for the three proposed projects, the quantitative modelling results project a positive economic impact, both during construction and in ongoing operations. Primary areas that would be positively impacted include GDP, jobs, labour income and output. There are also many potential impacts that could occur related to social, cultural and connectivity enhancements in the district, making it more attractive and accessible for Calgarians and visitors.”

The full report is available here.

How can you even consider a new Event Centre, given our economic situation?

The economic situation in Calgary is precisely why the Committee is considering this project right now. Make no mistake, Calgary faces significant challenges – our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, leading to a downtown vacancy rate that is now impacting the City’s bottom line. Therefore, City Council should be considering projects that expand our tax base, and not the tax rate. Our belief is that a Cultural and Entertainment District, anchored by an Event Centre – does that, thereby creating value for each and every Calgarian.

Is the Committee doing its work behind closed doors?

Event Centre Assessment Committee meets regularly and publicly in the Council Chambers. Everyone is welcome to attend, and Councillors are welcome to directly provide their input. Only once has Committee gone in camera – and that was to speak on legal matters surrounding a term sheet.

We keep as much public as possible, but negotiations and certain matters need to be held confidential. That being said, if a final deal is reached, it will be made public and Council will vote on it.

How much would a new Event Centre cost?

It is estimated that a new Event Centre could cost between $550-600 Million.

Is the City paying for the entire Event Centre?

No. The Committee has operated under the assumption that some public dollars, as well as partner dollars, would be needed to fund the new Event Centre.

Will our property taxes increase to build a new Event Centre?

No. The Committee has identified a funding source that will not require a tax increase to build a new Event Centre. This again goes back to our core City Council approved principle that public dollars must be used for public good.

What happens next?

Should Council accept the negotiating mandate request at the March 4 Meeting of Council, a proposal would be formalized and presented to Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation.