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Calgary Event Centre designs could be public this summer: committee chair

Calgarians could soon see what the city’s long-awaited Event Centre is set to look like, as work continues to get shovels in the ground.

The city’s Event Centre Committee has called a meeting Monday to provide officials an update on the work to advance the more than $800 million arena towards the city’s permitting process. However, much of that update is expected to take place behind closed doors.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, who chairs the committee, told reporters the committee will look at draft plans before they go to a private briefing for the Calgary Planning Commission later in the week.

“It’s been a couple of months since we talked about timelines, we’re on track to be able to hit some permitting times,” Sharp said. “Lots of groundwork has been laid for movement at the site, but we’re going to get ready for development permits.”

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According to Sharp, there aren’t any definitive dates yet for when Calgarians can see the design of the building, but the hope is to be able to showcase the design during this year’s Calgary Stampede.

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“We want to be able to be proud of a project like this when have so many investors and so many visitors to the city,” Sharp said. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to be public with it by the beginning of the summer.”

Work has begun to prepare the site on the corner of 12th Avenue and Olympic Way Southeast, as well as reconfigure 5th Street Southeast.

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In its latest update, project officials said the design team submitted two development permit applications to allow for stripping and grading on the site, as well as shoring and excavation work.

Sharp said the development permit application would be reviewed by the Calgary Planning Commission again in the fall.

“It’s following the same process as we would with any other city-owned project like Arts Commons did or the library,” Sharp said.

The entire project is expected to cost $1.2 billion, which includes the arena, community rink and improvements to the public space around the event centre in the Rivers District, as well as general improvements to area transportation and infrastructure.

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The City of Calgary, which will own the building, is putting up $537 million upfront to build the event centre, parking, plaza space and a quarter of the attached community rink. Flames ownership will pay $40 million up front and pay a $17-million annual lease payment to the city that will increase by one per cent over the next 35 years.

Those infrastructure improvements will be covered by $330 million in provincial funding, which is also expected to cover the demolition of the Saddledome and half of the cost of the community rink.

The city said the plan is to begin construction sometime later this year.

The agreement states the first day of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation’s lease on the new building is Sept. 1, 2026.

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