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Ward 3 - Jyoti Gondek

The Event Centre Deal: The decision before Council

The Event Centre Deal: The decision before Council
As you know, a three-party deal has been proposed for Calgary to build a new event centre in the Rivers District. The location is steps away from the existing Saddledome and incorporates responsibilities between the City of Calgary, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) and Calgary Stampede. Each has a role to play in bringing this building and its programming to life.
Here is a link to the detailed information regarding the project.
This infographic also gives you the highlights of the deal.
In a nutshell, the City of Calgary and CSEC will each contribute $275 million for construction of the facility, which will include sporting events as well as community, retail and commercial spaces that will further draw activity to the area and generate property taxes. The City will retain 100% ownership of the facility while CSEC will be responsible for 100% of operating and maintenance costs for the 35 year period of the agreement.
The links above will outline the economics of the deal for you, including the fact that no property tax increase is being proposed. While I respect that we will all have our own take on the economics of the project, I also believe that the non-economic benefits have not been presented in a fulsome way. My Ward 3 team has prepared a review of the research that looks at the non-economic or public benefits and it is available here.
While we will not be making a decision on this deal until July 29, 2019, my current perspective of the process to date is this:
·         Council outlined clear negotiating terms in March 2019, meaning that all members of Council and impacted members of Administration were fully aware at that time of what we needed to make the deal work for Calgarians
·         Appointing an independent third-party was the key to ensuring that due diligence was comprehensive on this negotiation; Barry Munro (President, EY Corporate Finance) was able to verify financial positions and negotiation terms through confidentiality agreements with all parties
·         Mr. Munro, Administration and the Event Centre Assessment Committee working group have returned to Council and advised that the terms of the negotiating mandate have been followed, and the deal is what we are seeking
·         Calgarians have weighed in on a new event centre through various means for the past three years, including over 6,000 residents providing comments on the Rivers District plan at 18 community events held throughout Calgary in 2018
·         If the deal is accepted by all parties, Calgarians will be asked to provide their perspectives on how to best activate this facility and design it for maximum community use
At the moment, I am in favour of the deal for the following reasons but I remain open to all perspectives until we cast a final vote on July 29, 2019:
·         This partnership generates approximately $75 million over 35 years for local community sports organizations
·         This project allows us to advance the goals of the Rivers District, which is imperative to the success of the community revitalization levy (CRL) that reinvests both the municipal and provincial property tax amounts for the area back into the district
·         This will not increase municipal property tax and will not impact the 2019 business tax relief program
·         Calgary benefits from wide-reaching branding opportunities tied to the NHL and Calgary Flames, as the agreement has the team staying in Calgary for the next 35 years
·         The non-economic benefits review conducted by my team indicates that the community value attached to the event centre is positive, particularly considering the increasing desire of people to consume events and activities as a means of social connection with others
·         Research indicates that upcoming generations are more interested in consuming experiences than commodities, which bodes well for the multi-uses of this facility (concerts, assemblies, festivals, affordable community programs and activities, professional and amateur sports)
·         This type of facility will assist Calgary in attracting contemporary e-sports events, similar to the League of Legends championship and the Fortnite World Cup, which generate millions of tourists globally and contribute to local economies
·         The rise of identity-confirming and community-building through ties to comic book genres and cosplay fits well with the vision of the event centre (e.g. people attend events like Comic-Con because they are seeking others to engage with in common interests)
If you would like to share your thoughts with me on this upcoming decision, please feel free to email my office by clicking here.

Categories: Accountability, Budget, Community, Community Building, Cost of growth, Development and Projects, Economics, Transparency

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.