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Event Centre FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Event Centre​

Last updated: January 13​, 2020, 2:02 P.M.

The agreements and operation of the Event Centre


What are the details of the operating agreement?

The parties have entered into a 35-year Management and Lease agreement. This agreement will see CSEC and its affiliates responsible for 100 per cent of the operating, maintenance and repair costs, other than major structural repairs. You can find out more about on the Event Centre agreements page.

Who will own the Event Centre?

The City will own 100 per cent of the Event Centre, including the lands on which it is located.

Why is this arrangement only for a 35-year term? How can we make sure the Event Centre lasts longer than that?

Both The City and CSEC agree to maximize the useful life of the Event Centre. The agreements have several provisions intended to maximize the life of the Event Centre. For example, there are incentives for CSEC to fund major capital improvements which extend the Event Centre’s useful life and the initial term beyond 35 years.

Can the Flames relocate during the 35-year lease?

CSEC has agreed not to relocate the Flames during the construction period or the 35-year lease term that follows it.

What are the land options within the terms and conditions of the deal?

The City will own 100 per cent of the Event Centre, including the lands on which it is located. As part of this, agreements have been made to exchange the Saddledome lands, and certain other City owned lands on Stampede Park, with the Stampede on a non-cash basis.

The City has also given CSEC the option to acquire certain lands in the Rivers District at a price equal to fair market value should they become available. This land includes the area that currently hosts The City’s Victoria Park Transit Centre; also known as the “bus barns.” This option will expire after 10 years from occupancy of the Event Centre.

How did The City arrive at some of the transaction terms?

The agreements between The City, CSEC (and its affiliates) and the Stampede are the result of extensive and comprehensive negotiations amongst the parties reflecting the bargaining that one would expect to occur between arms-length parties. The City was focused on ensuring its strategic and commercial interests were protected while acting with integrity and respect. The negotiations were intended to achieve a resolution to all material deal points and to do so on a "package deal" basis with a view to preserving The City's position. Gives and takes were involved. The transaction must be viewed as a comprehensive package deal.

Definitive agreements have been signed amongst the three parties: by The City with each of CSEC and the Stampede, as well as agreements between CSEC and the Stampede, to which The City is not party. The City has posted copies of City agreements related to design, construction and use of the Event Centre on the agreements page.



Why is The City of Calgary investing public tax dollars to build the Flames (private business) a new arena?

The City of Calgary remains committed to the economic recovery of our city on behalf of citizens, communities, businesses and customers. We continue to reduce the cost of government while investing in the future of Calgary.

The Event Centre is more than an arena. The Event Centre is a catalyst for attracting private sector investment into the area and the development of under-utilized lands. The vision for the Event Centre design is to create a stronger integration into the community and interaction with the streets and public spaces around it to create a variety of public experiences (in and around the facility) for citizens to enjoy.

The Event Centre itself leverages 50/50 private and public investment to spur additional private investment in the area.

This project is a key pillar for putting Calgary back on a favourable trajectory for future growth and prosperity and will provide significant direct and indirect benefits to Calgarians. The Event Centre contributes to outcomes identified in the Downtown Strategy, is a key component to Council’s update to the Economic Strategy for Calgary approved in June 2018 “Calgary in the New Economy”, and is critical to realize the vision of east Victoria Park as a Culture and Entertainment District that will add to the cultural vitality of our city.

How has The City calculated its returns? Has the time value of money been considered?

The City calculated anticipated returns using an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) calculation on its investment over the life of the project. An IRR calculation reflects an annualized rate of return of an investment, based on when project costs are incurred and when cash is received over the life of the project. IRR calculations reflect the time value of money as they consider the difference between cash flows spent or received in year one versus cash flows spent or received in year 35.

The City made assumptions in its financial analysis; as would be expected for any 35-year investment. Although intangible factors and unforeseen factors may influence outcomes, The City believes its assumptions are reasonable based on the best available information it had at the time.

Was inflation considered in The City's analysis?


The City’s cash flow analysis contemplated inflation.

If there are cost overruns, how will they be handled?

The design and budget of the Event Centre will be managed as a gated process so The City and CSEC will need to come to mutual agreements before moving onto the next stage of the process.

Changes outside of the approved design that are requested by only one of the parties, will be the sole responsibility of the requester. Outside of this scenario, any cost savings or cost overruns would be shared by The City and CSEC on a 50 / 50 percentage basis.

CMLC will oversee design and construction as the development manager for the project. CMLC has successfully managed many of The City’s biggest projects to date, such as the New Central Library, the East Village and the BMO Centre Expansion. Cost estimates have been reviewed by two construction firms and a cost consultant.

What are the other costs to The City?


Indirect City project costs are estimated at $15.4 M (exclusive of any land transfer value):

  • Saddledome demolition: $12.4 M – City portion
  • Transaction costs: $3 M

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

Municipal property tax increases were not proposed as part of the capital cost to fund the Event Centre: The City’s share of the investment includes capital budget funding primarily from the Major Projects Capital Reserve over the three-year design and construction period.




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

East Victoria Park is the ideal location because it meets the needs of Calgary.

  • It is already home to the Saddledome.
  • It has the necessary infrastructure to support an event centre.
  • It is within walking distance to many culture and entertainment venues such as Stampede Park, BMO Centre, Arts Commons, the new Central Library and the National Music Centre.
  • It supports the long-term vision set out in the Council-approved Rivers District Master Plan and contributes to the greater vision for east Victoria Park as a Culture and Entertainment District.
  • It acts as an anchor to support future development outlined in the Downtown Strategy.
  • It is near the existing Red and Blue lines of the LRT and will be close to the new Green Line.
  • It will be adjacent to a planned 5 Street S.E. underpass to support pedestrian and vehicle traffic and the planned 17th Avenue SE Extension to connect the district to the existing 17th Avenue business and retail corridor.
  • It will be a gateway into the Culture and Entertainment District and Stampede Park.
  • The City of Calgary has already made major investments in infrastructure and local area enhancements over the last 10 years.

Will the public be consulted on construction of the Event Centre?

As part of Calgary Municipal Land Corporation's (CMLC) responsibility as development manager of the facility, it will steward the public engagement program on the overall design of the facility, its integration into the broader district and opportunities to incorporate dynamic programming around the facility in areas like the adjacent event community space.​ This work will engage residents, businesses, development community members, key stakeholders and partners and the broader public.

When is construction expected to start?

Construction of the new Event Centre is expected to begin in late 2021 and should take approximately three years. The Saddledome will be demolished after occupancy of the new Event Centre.

What happens to the Saddledome when the Event Centre opens?

The Saddledome was built for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. It has served Calgary well but is aging. The Saddledome will be demolished after occupancy of the new Event Centre.

What is the strategy to protect the Event Centre in the event of a flood?

The project budget includes an allocation for flood mitigation efforts as part of the construction of the facility. The building will conform with local building requirements which will require that all mechanical and electrical systems are above the 1:100-year flood level and providing added flood protection measures at any penetrations in the foundation.

The City will work with CSEC to determine the best and most cost-effective approach to secure appropriate insurance coverage for the Event Centre.

Other city and provincial flood mitigation initiatives are also underway that are intended to enhance Calgary’s overall flood resilience which will benefit the Rivers District.​​​

What consideration has been given to insurance costs?

Until the Event Centre is constructed, the terms and conditions, and resulting costs cannot be fully determined. In determining the costs of insurance, insurers will take into account all flood mitigation strategies in both the construction of the building as well as the activities undertaken by The City or Province in the surrounding area (Calgary and area).

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How does this deal benefit Calgarians?

The finalization of Event Centre agreements not only launches a formal process to design and build this new facility,  it also represents a great opportunity for the coordinated development of major building projects expected to accelerate the revitalization of the Rivers District and the East Victoria Park. This work will also support The City’s Downtown Strategy to further Calgary’s economic recovery and resilience.

The Event Centre is a strategic investment in our city’s future, a partnership with long-term public benefit. These benefits include:

  • Attracting and retaining young talent in a re-energized, entrepreneurial and socially vibrant city.
  • Calgary being included in tours by world-leading performing artists, major events and festivals.
  • Solidifying Calgary’s place as a major destination for visitors from around the world.
  • Creating another exciting place for Calgarians to gather, strengthen relationships and celebrate.
  • The Event Centre being a catalyst for attracting private sector investment to the district and the development of under-used lands. Other projects that will benefit the area include the BMO Centre expansion currently underway, Stampede LRT Station upgrades, as well as construction of a festival space on Olympic Way that CMLC will construct for use by CSEC, the Stampede, The City and community organizations.
  • Community sports organizations receiving a contribution from The Flames Foundation of $1.5 million (escalating at 2 per cent for inflation) each year over the lease term.
  • The City receiving some access to the Event Centre for public events. If a secondary arena is constructed, community organizations would have access to it.
  • Revenues and benefits are defined in the signed agreements. This includes tax revenue that will be generated from the street-facing retail portion of the Event Centre and other developments in the Rivers District.

Social and community benefits

Literature from studies and other jurisdictions suggest the following:

  • A majority of event centre users and non-users agree that sports teams generate civic pride for their city (Groothuis, Johnson & Whitehead, 2004)
  • Civic pride, reputation and image created by sports teams are important factors for a city’s overall development (Swindell & Rosentraub, 1998)
  • Social impact - communal experience, pride and sense of belonging, identifying with a local team, enthusiasm when a major sporting event is held in your hometown
  • Community visibility and image impacts - benefits from the city being associated with a major sports team/facility (increases a city’s visibility and image)
  • Developmental impact - the redevelopment of the area immediately surrounding the sport facility district. (Grieve & Sherry 2012)
  • Professional sports organizations have recognized the importance of drawing new Canadians to their teams as fans, both in the stands and at home watching television (Institute for Canadian Citizenship, 2014)

Sport and recreation contribute to:

  • Community health and wellbeing
  • Confidence-building and empowerment
  • Social integration and cohesion
  • National and cultural identity
  • Reduction in crime and vandalism (Grieve & Sherry, 2012)

What are the social impacts of building the Event Centre?

The EY Economic Impact Assessment (along with literature reviews) shared with Council on January 28, 2019, looked at the social benefits associated with the Event Centre. While harder to quantify, social benefits such as the development of the ”experience economy” where individuals can live, work and access entertainment within close proximity, contribute to the overall development opportunity.

Social benefits can also have a broader impact in the areas of:

  1. Cultural development – improving Calgary’s reputation as a city of choice for employers, visitors and citizens.
  2. Social – the creation of public spaces and the relationships built through public gatherings.
  3. Tourism – diversity of experiences that drive related spends in food and beverage, hotels etc.
  4. Civic Pride – associated with sports teams and cultural diversity.

How does The City benefit from incremental development in the Rivers District as compared to development in other areas of The City?


The Community Revitalization Levy Bylaw for the Rivers District, approved by the Province of Alberta, allows Council to collect incremental property tax revenue (from private development) to be used for infrastructure and other costs in the Rivers District until the end of 2047.

This arrangement was an integral element of the successful buildout to date of the East Village and provided the necessary funding to achieve that buildout.

The expectation is that a similar result can be achieved for the East Victoria Park portion of the Rivers District.


Public engagement

How has the public been engaged on the Event Centre?

Calgarians were engaged by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) 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. The engagement was supported through extensive promotion, both paid and earned media, for over 100 days of active engagement. As a result, over 6,000 Calgarians participated directly in the engagement sessions on the issue, and over 120,000 pieces of information were collected.
  • On July 30, 2019, Council received into its Corporate Record almost 5,200 submissions received from the public regarding the Event Centre. The City of Calgary has reviewed the submissions and posted all comments received from the public. All comments received have had personal information removed in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.​​
  • Since the formation of the Event Centre Assessment Committee, the public has been informed of the process through periodic public meetings that have detailed the progress of the committee's work.

How will the public be engaged on the Event Centre in the future?

The parties have entered into definitive agreements. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) will act as the development manager for the Event Centre and will conduct engagement with key stakeholders and the broader public to gather insights that will inform planning and design efforts.

As part of CMLC's responsibility as development manager, it will steward public engagement on the overall design of the facility, its integration into the broader district and opportunities to incorporate dynamic programming around the facility in areas like the adjacent Festival Street.

Engagement will be conducted in phases as development of the facility advances and to allow for both community stakeholders and the broader public to participate.

Engagement will explore the areas of:

  • Facility design and its connectivity to public spaces like the envisioned Festival Street along Stampede Trail.
  • Opportunities for programming and activation of the facility and the broader Culture and Entertainment District, including reconciliation to the programing likely to evolve from the BMO Centre.
  • Urban Design and streetscaping around the Event Centre to integrate and enhance synergies between nearby amenities like the BMO Expansion, Stampede Park and the character areas of the Rivers District.

Engagement will start in January 2020 and conclude in April 2020 with a final report. This inclusive outreach program will engage residents, business interests, development community members, key stakeholders and partners, and the broader public in the process.

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What is the difference between an event centre and an arena?


The term “event centre” relates to both design and programming opportunities related to the facility.

An arena implies a single-use sport function. The vision for the Event Centre design is to create stronger integration into the community and interaction with the streets and public spaces around it to create a variety of public experiences (in and around the facility) for citizens to enjoy.

The development of the festival street, public-facing retail attached to the facility and an event centre plaza will create a vibrant and lively space that is beyond just a sports arena.

Council required that the agreement contemplate public consultation during the design phase of the Event Centre, in part to ensure that the Event Centre vision can be brought to life.​

Who serves on the Steering Committee for the Event Centre?

Stuart Dalgleish, General Manager of Planning and Development, will serve as The City’s representative on the Steering Committee for the design, and construction of the Event Centre. CSEC will be represented by its President and CEO John Bean. Kate Thompson, President and CEO of CMLC, also serves on the Steering Committee.

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Event Centre partners

  • Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)
  • Calgary Exhi​bition and Stampede Ltd. (Stampede)​
  • Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC)