New event centre committee meets for first time as Calgary looks to replace Saddledome

Calgary’s new event centre committee is off and running and the new chair of the group says it’s not a matter of if a new arena will be built, it’s when.

“The goal is to have an event center,” said Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp, the chair of the committee.

“(The role of) this committee is really to make sure that it oversees the work of administration, and that we get the job done,” she said Monday morning.

The committee held a short meeting on Monday to set a schedule and discuss the terms of reference for the group. 

The committee came to fruition after the agreement to build an event centre officially fell apart at the start of this year when the city and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) couldn’t agree on additional funding needed for the project. 

An agreement to build a new event centre was signed in December 2019, with the city and CSEC, the Flames’ ownership group, splitting the cost of the $550 million project. Costs increased to $634 million before the deal expired on New Year’s Eve.

The city agreed to find a third-party group to act as an intermediary between it and CSEC. The firm handling the negotiations is not yet publicly known, but Sharp says she wants to see future talks happen in public, as much as possible. 

“I’m very I’m firm believer of transparency is really important,” she said. 

“So we want to make sure that there is transparency with this. Not to say that there wasn’t before, but this is this is a different time with this project and we need to make sure we’re keeping that trust and confidence with our partners, the citizens and the rest of the business community and transparency is key to that.”

The committee set its schedule into October, but there’s no word on what the timeline is for when the group hopes to get a deal done. 

If CSEC does not wish to move forward in partnering for a new arena, the city will explore other partners for an event centre. 

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