A poll of Calgary residents by Mainstreet Research and the Calgary Herald finds people like new things, but don’t like to pay for them. Also, they will answer lots of contradictory things if a poll asks them contradictory questions.
To the specifics of the poll on the $890 million or maybe really $1.2 billion Flames and Stampeders stadium/arena/floor wax plan:
Do you think the Scotiabank Saddledome, current home of the Calgary Flames & Calgary Roughnecks, needs to be replaced? 32% replaced, 27% renovated, 23% leave as is, 17% not sure.
Do you think McMahon Stadium, current home of the Calgary Stampeders, needs to be replaced? 35% replaced, 32% renovated, 19% leave as is, 14% not sure.
That indicates that a majority (50-32% for the arena, 51-35% for the stadium) of Calgary residents think the existing arenas shouldn’t be replaced. Clear enough, right?
Do you agree or disagree with the following: a proposal to build a new arena, stadium, and ﬁeld house is good for the city. 30% strongly agree, 25% somewhat agree, 13% somewhat disagree, 18% strongly disagree, 14% neither agree nor disagree.
Thinking about everything you have seen or heard about Calgary Next, do you support the project or oppose the project? 19% strongly support, 20% somewhat support, 20% somewhat oppose, 14% strongly oppose, 26% neither support nor oppose.
Okay, so people don’t think the existing stadium and arena should be replaced, but do think a new stadium and arena would be good for the city, and aren’t sure whether they support or oppose the project. I guess given the first two, the last one shouldn’t be all that surprising, but that’s a lot of cognitive dissonance there.
What else we got? Oh, right, no one has asked yet about paying for it.
As proposed, funding would come from the following sources. $200 million from the Flames ownership group; $200 million from the city for the municipal ﬁeld house; $250 million from a ticket tax on users, and the remaining $240 million would come from a community revitalization levy with governments giving up or postponing future tax revenue. Do you support this ﬁnancing model? 19% yes, 49% no, 33% not sure.
Even taking into account that very large “not sure” (of which I’m sure a large percentage actually represents “Whaaaaaaa? Can you say that again slowly?”), that’s a significant sentiment in opposition to putting up $490 million in public tax money. (Though the way the question is phrased, I suppose it’s possible that some people are upset that the public wouldn’t be putting in more tax money. Possible, but unlikely.)
In your view, how should CalgaryNext be funded? 45% Flames ownership, 40% Flames and government, 15% not sure.
Okay, that seems to indicate that a plurality of poll respondents don’t want any public money used for this.
As polls go, this is a hot mess, and if it indicates anything, indicates that people simultaneously believe everything they are being told about the stadium+arena project. (It’d be good for the city! We don’t need it! We don’t want to pay for it!) Perhaps somebody (*cough cough Calgary Herald*) could be doing a better job of explaining it, so people could come up with some non-contradictory opinions?
Anyway, enough with the public — what does the Calgary city council think of the proposal?
Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu said he agrees with the 49 per cent of poll respondents who oppose the proposal’s financing model.
“I’m always of the opinion the taxpayers’ dollar should not be supporting any professional sport,” he said.
“From what I’ve heard, people are unanimously saying no tax dollars for this project.”
But Coun. Evan Woolley, who represents the area where the complex would be built, said despite the poll indicating many are opposed to spending public money on the megaproject, it may be exactly what the city needs.
“We have a downturn in the economy and we have an opportunity to build something that will diversify our economy,” he said.
This is going to be a long debate.