The Calgary Saddledome, which was built in 1983, holds a lot of memories for me; the wins, the losses, the emotion, the 2004 playoff run, the 2013 flood, and the 2015 playoff appearance. But the arena is getting old and it's been suggested that the Flames need a new place for hockey. With the proposition of a CalgaryNEXT multi-plex, reviews seem mixed. But the city has come up with an alternative solution that has opened more discussions.
Last year, president and CEO of the Calgary Flames, Ken King, presented an idea - a new arena which would make a home inside the CalgaryNEXT complex. The initial idea of the complex would include a field house where football, lacrosse, track and field, and other field-based sports could be played, as well as an arena event centre where the Calgary Flames and other professional sports would played. There would also be space for amateur sports and concerts held within the complex. It all seems too good to be true. And it just might be according to the city.
Just recently, it was reported by the city of Calgary that the CalgaryNEXT arena could cost about double what was originally planned. Among the additional cost, location at the West Villiage seems to be an issue. The cleanup of the site, which is full of creosote contamination from a wood-treatment plant, is estimated at around 6 years according to the city report, but CalgaryNEXT estimated it to be about 2 years. That's a huge difference that could ultimate play a factor in the final decision of the complex.
Traffic flow seems to be another sore spot in the consideration of building the CalgaryNEXT project. The city suggested building at or near Stampede Park, where traffic flow is already well established and no new infrastructure would have to be built (which is another major cost).
The mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, doesn't seem to want to hand over tax-payers money as quickly as Ken King does. In January, Nenshi explained that he wanted to make sure to get public input in order to make the right decision. Yet Mr. King is keeping an open mind while seemingly still holding onto hope for the CalgaryNEXT project in spite of the city's alternative ideas that were discussed recently.
This year seems to be the year of ideas and alternative suggestions as both sides of this debate will be making more decisions in the near future. It's definitely a topic of much discussion recently, especially now that the Calgary Flames are done their season and the organization has time to focus on this issue. Public opinions seem to be mixed. A lot of people seem to agree that the Flames need a new arena, but a lot do not want to foot the city-reported 1.3 billion dollar cost to the public.
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