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General details


What is the deal?

More than an Event Centre, this project includes new community amenities and infrastructure—downtown’s only community rink, new public plazas and gathering places, new mobility connections and streets and public realm improvements. These community improvements make this project a generational investment in Calgary’s future— a vibrant C+E District for Calgarians to experience, a new community for more people to live in, and even more reasons for Calgary’s downtown to be a destination for visitors, businesses and investors.

What are the benefits of this project to Calgarians, our city and the region?

A modern event centre will attract new concerts, performances and events Calgarians can enjoy for decades to come. The new deal also includes new public and community amenities that directly contribute to the quality of life for the 8,000 Calgarians who will call this developing community home, and people visiting from all corners of the city. Together, these amenities will give more people more opportunities to enjoy and experience Calgary's emerging Culture + Entertainment District and one of our newest growing communities. Public investments in this area will also attract new businesses and real estate developments, creating thousands of jobs during and beyond construction. 

Like many of our public amenities downtown—the Eau Claire promenade, St. Georges Island, East Village—to name a few, new community and district improvements made possible by this deal will be accessible and well-used by Calgarians across the city.

What types of events and programs will take place at the new Event Centre?

In addition to sporting events, such as professional and amateur hockey and lacrosse, and art events, such as concerts and shows, there will now be new opportunities to attract the concerts and shows that have bypassed Calgary and gone to other cities because we cannot accommodate them at the old Saddledome. 

More than just an event centre, this project will also create new outdoor and indoor public plazas, offering community organizations more venues to host events, artists and shows. The considerable investments that are being made in Calgary’s Culture + Entertainment District ultimately make this a more attractive destination for more events that can be experienced by more people – those who live here now and those visiting in the future.  

Why is it important that we prioritize an event centre among other city priorities?

Calgary is a global city and a growing city. We are attracting people both locally and globally, who see an opportunity to make a great life in Calgary. As our city grows, there will be opportunities and challenges – both of which need to be considered and acted upon.

Ensuring Calgary continues to be an affordable and attractive City for people to live in and want to visit requires thoughtful and intentional effort – and we’re continuing to act on both fronts.

The City is funding and making progress on housing affordability, public safety, and public transit. The City is also making sure Calgary is a great place that offers diverse amenities, resources, and attractions for the people who live here and those visiting.

The Event Centre Block and District Improvements will enhance the emerging C+E District, and better position Calgary as a tourist destination and as a lively entertainment hub. This is one of the many ways we’re supporting Calgarians by creating local jobs and employment in Calgary’s tourism, hospitality, and service industries – to name a few.

Who is on the project team?

Development Manager – CAA ICON

Design Consultants – DIALOG, HOK

Construction Manager – CANA, Mortenson

Design and construction


What is the construction schedule?

The design and planning phases are well underway, and we are pleased to share that the design concept for the Event Centre Block is beginning to take shape.  

The project team is diligently working to complete the design and construction schedule as soon as possible to ensure a timely delivery of the Event Centre Block. This schedule will highlight when major project milestones are due to occur such as the third and final development permit application for the building, public design reveal, and timing to begin excavation activities.  

We recognize people are eager to see the new Event Centre Block design, and while the schedule is still being finalized and subject to change, we expect to share the design and break ground in 2024.

What is the targeted completion date?

We are committed to delivering this project as quickly as possible while ensuring the highest standards of quality. Every effort is being made to accelerate the timeline without compromising quality and excellence. 

It is a multi-year construction project, and it’s typical for projects of this scale and magnitude to take a minimum of three years to complete.

We anticipate sharing the design and initiating excavation activities in 2024, marking important milestones towards delivering this exciting project.

Where can I find information on construction impacts?

Construction is underway on several major city-building projects within Calgary’s evolving Culture + Entertainment District. For a full list of road and sidewalk impacts in the area, please visit CMLC’s C+E Access Map for real-time construction updates in the area.

What is the development permit process?

Three development permits are required to advance construction the Event Centre Block.

February 2024

The Event Centre design team (DIALOG & HOK) submitted two of three development permit applications required to facilitate construction of the Event Centre Block:

  1. Stripping and grading development permit
  2. Shoring and excavation development permit

Following approval of these permits, it will allow the Event Centre team to strip, grade, and excavate for the Event Centre Block. This work is targeted to begin later this year after the designs have been shared with the public.

Summer 2024

A separate and third development permit application for the building (including building design components such as exterior façade and interior layouts) is expected to be submitted in the summer months.

We are committed to delivering this project as quickly as possible so Calgarians and visitors can begin using the new event centre, community ice rink, and public amenities. It is a multi-year construction project, and every effort is being made to expedite the timeframe and avoid project delays.

By sequencing the permit applications this way, we can schedule the work and trades required to begin the excavation process as soon as the design of the Event Centre Block is complete. This process creates efficiency and saves time and cost in the overall project schedule.

When will design details be finalized?

We recognize people are eager to see the new Event Centre Block design and we expect it to be published when it is ready to submit for development permit in 2024.

How will the budget be managed in this inflationary climate?

As part of the ongoing design process, we are continuously monitoring how the design and scope are developing and how they align within the defined project budget.

Like almost all projects within the construction industry, we are facing challenges relating to escalating construction costs, inflationary pressures, labour demands, and rising supply chain expenses.

The project team remains proactive in tracking project costs and making prudent financial decisions at every turn to ensure we deliver a project that Calgarians can be proud of, and within budget.

Can we expect a different building design than what was previously shared with the public?

Yes. The City is working with development manager CAA ICON and design consultants DIALOG and HOK on the design of the new event centre block. The scope of this project is entirely different than the previous project and now includes additional parcels, public plazas, and a community rink. As such, a different design will be submitted as part of the development permit process. 

Was there a public engagement process?

Formal public engagement for the Rivers District Master Plan occurred between February 2017 and July 2018. Between January and April 2020, public engagement specific to a new event centre was conducted during the Council-directed work on the previous event centre agreements. Three main themes emerged from this work:

  • Pride: Many see the Event Centre as an opportunity to revitalize east Victoria Park and the surrounding neighbourhoods, catalyze growth and give Calgary a world-class facility they can be proud of.
  • Variety: By and large, people want the space to offer a variety of exciting opportunities that will consistently attract locals and tourists year-round.
  • Connection: The Event Centre should provide opportunities for Calgarians to connect with one another, with friends and family, business associates and their community.

All parties involved in the Event Centre structure acknowledge that public engagement previously occurred with respect to an event centre. This work is being considered and applied to the current project.

In addition to the engagement already conducted, the project team is conducting Indigenous Engagement and outreach with targeted interest-holders to further inform the final design approach. 

What climate considerations or requirements will be incorporated in the building design?

The Event Centre will be designed and constructed to be LEED certified. The specific design features of the building will be developed during the design phase of the project. 

How will Indigenous communities be engaged in the design and development of the Event Centre Block?

Consulting with local Indigenous Nations and communities is part of the Event Centre’s design process. The project team is consulting with an Indigenous Advisory Committee to inform the design and find ways to capture the spirit of the Event Centre’s location at the confluence and its connection to local Indigenous communities.

Did the procurement opportunities go to market?

Yes. The Event Centre development manager, design consultant and construction manager opportunities all went through a competitive procurement process. CAA ICON was awarded the development manager contract after an RFP process initiated in June 2023 and previous contracts signed by The City in 2020 for the design consultant and construction manager were reinstated in accordance with their terms. 

Site preparation and enabling works


When will enabling works begin?

January 2024 marked the start of enabling works and various site preparation which will continue through the spring. This includes the reconfiguration of 5 Street S.E., utility relocations, and site clean-up.

What is happening with 5 Street S.E.?

While the design is underway, several site preparation activities are also underway to ensure the site is ready for excavation at the earliest opportunity.

5 Street S.E. will be shifted to the east between 14 Avenue S.E. and 12 Avenue S.E. and become 5A Street S.E. This move is necessary to make the space and room necessary for the full 10-acre Event Centre Block.

Underground service work and installation of a temporary construction roadway was completed in early 2024 and the team is gearing up to begin construction of the new roadway in the coming weeks. 5 Street will remain open to traffic until 5A street is completed.

More information is available on the Event Centre traffic and construction impacts page.

What is happening to the Stephenson & Co Grocers Building?

The Stephenson & Co Grocers building, located at the corner of 13 Avenue S.E. and 5 Street S.E., stands as a testament to Calgary's rich history. With plans to relocate the building from its current location this spring, collaborative efforts are underway to preserve its heritage by exploring ways to integrate it back into Calgary’s modern-day urban landscape. While a final decision remains to be had, options include adaptive re-use, such as repurposing the structure for commercial, cultural, or community use. In the meantime, the building will be temporarily stored at a protected location safeguarding it from harm during the transition.

What was done to commemorate the Victoria Park Elm Tree?

Though it has been removed, a commitment to honouring its legacy and significance persists. Several preservation efforts, both completed and underway, will ensure the essence of the Victoria Park Elm will live on into future generations.

In 2021, The City partnered with The University of Calgary to digitally capture the tree. The tree was scanned from twelve locations with a terrestrial laser scanner and is now part of their Alberta Digital Heritage Archive.

Calgary Parks collected approximately 150 seeds directly from the tree itself, some of which have already been propagated in a city tree nursery. As of February 2024, the seedlings were between 6-18 inches tall.

Additionally, branches were cut from the tree and are also being cultivated into new and self-supporting trees of their own. If these branches propagate successfully, they will result in genetically identical trees to the Victoria Park Elm that can be re-planted back into Calgary’s urban forest. Currently, they are in the early stages of establishment with hopes of rooting and leafing this spring.

Seedlings and cuttings take several years to propagate. While the success rate is not guaranteed and often unpredictable, we are hopeful that between 100 – 200 trees will be re-planted into Calgary’s urban forest in the coming years between all the preservation efforts underway.

How will the wood from the Victoria Park Elm Tree be repurposed?

The project team intends to explore ways to re-purpose or memorialize the wood into the design of Event Centre Block in a meaningful way. This work is part of the ongoing Event Centre design process, where careful consideration is being given to ensure the proper handling and future utilization of this wood.

The removal process will work to determine if the wood is healthy enough and, if so, how best the wood can be re-purposed back into the community for future use. This process is anticipated to take several months and a final decision on how the elm wood can be re-purposed is likely to be made towards the end of the multi-year construction project. 

How do I share my ideas on how to repurpose the wood from the Victoria Park Elm Tree?

We are happy to welcome ideas and suggestions from the public. If you have an idea you’d like to share, please submit it to calgaryeventcentre@calgary.ca

District improvements


What is happening with the 6 Street Underpass?

The delivery of the 6 Street S.E. underpass will be funded through the provincial commitments that support district infrastructure in the area. As steward of the Rivers District Master Plan, CMLC will lead the delivery of the 6 Street S.E. underpass, which is expected to begin construction in 2024.

For more information, visit CMLCs project website.

Where can I find a full list of traffic and construction impacts in the area?

Construction is underway on several major city-building projects within Calgary’s evolving Culture + Entertainment District. For a full list of road and sidewalk impacts in the area, please visit CMLC’s C+E Access Map for real-time construction updates in the area. 

Agreements


Is this a better deal than previous?

Yes. This deal is better for Calgarians, The City, and the region for several reasons:

  • New public and community amenities – This deal includes considerable investments in new public and community amenities that directly contribute to the quality of life for the 8,000 Calgarians who will call this developing community home, and all Calgarians and visitors who work and spend time in this new destination.
  • Financial predictability – In this deal, all revenue streams including surcharges on ticket revenues and naming rights within the event centre block are consolidated into one predictable, guaranteed lease payment to The City - $17 million that escalates at 1.0% per year for 35 years. Once the 35-year term is completed, CSEC will have paid $748.3 million for the Event Centre block.
  • City revenue opportunities – This agreement provides for future land development opportunities. The City will receive the proceeds should CSEC exercise the option to purchase lands. As well, the future developments, including retail, commercial, hospitality, etc. would generate new property taxes and be reinvested into the Rivers District and Culture + Entertainment District through the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL).
  • Economic growth – The ability to host world-class events increases Calgary’s exposure internationally. This hosting helps to spur new growth, create new jobs, and furthers Calgary’s reputation as a business centre for investments and tourism destination. 

What are the City revenue opportunities?

Property Taxes - The development sites, including the development site of the Event Centre Block, will generate property taxes once developed and in operations. Furthermore, all street facing retail sites that form part of the Event Centre building will also generate property taxes for The City. 

In addition to the property tax generated from these specific properties, the inclusion of the event centre in the Rivers District will also encourage additional development of adjacent properties in the District and may increase the value of existing ones. The end result will be increasing The Rivers District Community Revitalization Levy to fund potential future infrastructure investments in the district and a significant source of incremental revenue for The City when the CRL expires in 2048.  

Land Sales - As part of these transactions, The City will acquire up to four development sites from Calgary Stampede and The City will grant options to CSEC to purchase these sites for development. In addition, The City has granted the right of first offer on prospective development sites on the lands currently housing the Victoria Park Bus Maintenance Facility (Bus Barn), should The City decide to develop portions of these lands in the future.

The City will receive the proceeds from these land sales should CSEC exercise their option to purchase them, in addition to the upfront capital contribution and annual lease payments. All of these development opportunities support building out the full Culture + Entertainment District and contribute to the additional investments and vibrancy of the surrounding community. 

Who will own and operate the Event Centre Block?

The City will own the new Event Centre Block.

CSEC will lease, maintain and operate the Event Centre Block. They are fully responsible for the costs of all maintenance and operations of the Event Centre Block for an initial 35-year term with the option to extend the term. They will manage all aspects of the building (from vendors, venue bookings, security of the building etc…).

This partnership reflects the current partnership between The City and CSEC for the Saddledome.

Why will some of the documents remain confidential?

Like any business deal, there are some documents that must remain confidential as they contain sensitive business information about The City and our partners. However, we will continue to share as much information as possible as the project progresses. 

Why is the Province involved in funding this project this time around?

The City is excited to have the province at the table to support the surrounding infrastructure for this important agreement.  This project is more than just an event centre. With this agreement, the province is contributing to the revitalization of downtown and the creation of a vibrant Culture + Entertainment District that will include the event centre, indoor and outdoor public gathering places and a community rink for public use. This plan also includes a major investment in the surrounding infrastructure to serve the district and improve transportation options.

Who is the Development Manager?

CAA ICON is acting as the Development Manager for the Calgary Event Centre Block and responsible for delivering the project which includes the event centre, community rink, and public plazas on behalf of The City and CSEC.

Their responsibilities include oversight of services associated with design, development, and construction of the Event Centre Block. This includes ensuring the project is delivered on time, on budget, within scope, and to the quality we’ve outlined.

They have extensive experience performing a similar service on other event centres – such as Rogers Place in Edmonton, Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, and the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas – and we are confident they will bring a high level of service, consultation, and project management to the Calgary Event Centre team.

What is the funding toward community sport?

The Calgary Flames Foundation will contribute $1.5 million per year, for a total of $52.5 million, over 35 years towards community sport funding. This commitment will offer the local community and southern Alberta region a variety of recreational and health and wellness programming. Initial recipients of the grant are WinSport, Calgary Parks Foundation, and KidSport Canada.

What will happen to the Saddledome?

Once the new Event Centre Block opens, The City will demolish the Saddledome, which is funded by the Province. Eventually, the land that the Saddledome currently resides on will be owned, maintained, and operated by the Calgary Stampede.

Are the Calgary Flames obligated to stay in Calgary?

Yes. The non-relocation agreement states CSEC has committed to the Calgary Flames staying in Calgary until the end of the 35-year term. 

What are the details around the community rink?

The community rink will be available to the general public and community organizations to use. It will be available on weeknights and weekends for public use and programming at a 15% reduced rate from the market average on similar programming facilities.

Financing


How will The City fund this project?

The event centre was identified as a priority for The City in 2019 and money was set aside for the previous iteration of the project. The balance of funding required will be transferred from the Major Capital Projects Reserve, the Fiscal Stability Reserve and the Budget Savings Account Merged Reserve. No increase in municipal taxes will be required and The City will not be taking on any additional debt. 

What is the cost of this project?

The two projects the associated costs fund a number of improvements to the area:

  • Mobility improvements
  • Event centre
  • Indoor community plaza
  • Outdoor community event plazas
  • Attached parkade
  • Downtown’s only community rink, available for community sport and events, during evenings and weekends
  • Future redevelopment site

This agreement will help The City realize a vibrant Culture +Entertainment District. It’s a shared investment between The City, CSEC and the Province:

  • The City: $537.3 million
  • CSEC: $356 million (today’s dollars)
    • Over the 35 year term, CSEC’s payments to The City will accumulate as follows:
      • $748.3 million (a present value of $356 million)
        • $40 million upfront 
        • $17 million annual lease payment, escalating 1% per year
    • Future land sales
      • Four properties identified for redevelopment
      • Future sale of Victoria Park Bus Maintenance Facility 
    • $52.5 million
      • $1.5 million annual payment to community sport funding 
  • The Province: $330 million
    • Funds mobility improvements and contributes to the community rink and outdoor community plazas

What is the financing structure with CSEC?

Under the Municipal Government Act, The City may charge fees for the use of its property. The facility fee is a charge that’s imposed by The City and levied on the price of tickets, venue bookings or other revenue for events in the Event Centre Block. CSEC’s revenue will contribute to the annual payment.

  • The first $17 million payment to The City will be comprised of a rent payment ($7 million) and facility fee ($10 million) charged by The City.
  • For each year after, a 1% escalation cost will be added to the previous years’ annual payment. The facility fee and rent payment will escalate accordingly. 

The lease payment was structured to escalate in this way so The City continues to benefit over time. 

What financial security do we have that CSEC will fulfill their financial obligations?

The City has been granted security by CSEC, which includes a commitment by the Calgary Flames to stay in Calgary from now until the expiration of the 35-year initial lease term. If CSEC defaults under the Management and Lease Agreement (whether for bankruptcy or insolvency or otherwise), The City has the right to require payment for the total amount of future payments in the balance of the 35-year initial term.

How will cost overruns be dealt with?

In the event of cost overruns on the event centre block, CSEC and The City will split the cost 50:50.

Does the event centre cost $1.2B?

No. The City is investing $515.3 million towards the event centre block – which includes an event centre, community rink, public gathering spaces, and future development sites. This project is a shared investment that would not be possible without the significant financial contributions from the Province and CSEC.

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