The city of Calgary has already released terrifying new Flames arena renderings, and now it looks set today to take up providing terrifying amounts of public money to help pay for one:
Calgary city council will discuss Monday how to prioritize and pay for mega-projects, including an event centre that would be the new home of the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
The event centre, estimated to cost between $550 million and $600 million, is one piece in a larger development puzzle proposed for the Rivers District east of downtown.
You will notice that the Associated Press report calls the arena an “event centre,” which is one of the surreal rhetorical battles going on in the Calgary arena fight: Advocates of a new home for the Flames say it wouldn’t be just an arena but rather an event centre, because it could hold events other than hockey … which is precisely what every other sports arena does. (Fun fact! The NBA was launched in 1949 largely as a way to fill empty dates at hockey arenas!) Nobody’s said yet how much the city would kick in for this building, beyond a single city document indicating that it could “substantially” be paid for by siphoning off property taxes from an arena district; hopefully we’ll know more after today’s council hearing.
A recent poll shows that Calgarians are evenly split on whether to provide public money for a Flames arena, which sounds like a pretty stupid poll, because did they really not ask how much public money they’d be willing to provide? I, for one, would be totally okay with providing $1 (Canadian) toward a new arena in my city, but less so with promising a gigasquillion dollars. (The poll writeup does not indicate how many Calgarians just stared at the pollsters, shook their heads sadly, then walked away.)