Calgary mayor: Flames arena-stadium plan “not even in the oven yet”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is back from vacation, and talking about the Flames‘ $890 million arena-stadium-mashup proposal. Here’s his answer to a video question from a concerned Flames fan, transcribed and translated from the original Canadian:

Just so people understand this, the amount of public investment that would be required to make that work would actually make that the largest public works project in Calgary’s history — or maybe second largest after the West LRT. So these are really, really, really big dollars. So it’s really important for us to have a conversation with Calgarians about whether hat’s a good use of public money. I have often said that public money needs to be for public benefit, not for private profit, and the question for all Calgarians now is whether there’s enough public benefit in his to justify that kind of public money.

There’s going to be weeks and months to continue to discuss questions like “Is that the right size? Can the transportation networks support it? Is the environmental contamination just too difficult to fix?”…

Long story short, some people have said that the CalgaryNEXT proposal is half-baked. I would argue it’s not even in the oven yet.

Good questions being asked, reasonable perspective — yup, sounds like one of the Gang of Four, all right.


2 comments on “Calgary mayor: Flames arena-stadium plan “not even in the oven yet”

  1. All good points made by Nenshi. I have hope for him.

    That said, Mandel said some of the same kinds of things in Edmonton, then handed Mr. Katz $450 err… -$480 err… $608, errr… $643 million in taxpayer dollars for a new arena. Katz’ promised contributions are not going into the public structures but into his own privately controlled development, and no-one has even started talking about transportation infrastructure yet, nor what the finished building might actually cost the public.

    So… good comments up front can easily translate into bad deals later on… but yeah, there’s hope…

  2. PS: I liked the linked Vice article, thanks for that.

    Its true that Mayors are “people too” of course. I think what often gets overlooked is that Mayors are just one vote on any given council (and at times, do not even get to vote unless the council is deadlocked).

    When they expend political capital either for or against a given proposal, Mayors have to calculate what that might cost them down the road in deliberating on other items. Unfortunately, sports stadia tend to be hot button issues in a way that highway interchanges and sewer trunk lines aren’t. A Mayor who lobbies effectively against a sports subsidy likely won’t be around to experience the benefits if his or her council blocks spending on garbage collection or sewer line construction in retribution for doing so.

    I guess its much like the $120m school lunch bill that everyone wants but no-one will vote for because it has somebody’s $40Bn missile program attached to the back end of it.