The Coronavirus pandemic has claimed another victim. The long-awaited construction of a new arena for the Calgary Flames will no longer begin this year. Instead, the deal is dead. CBC reports that the agreement between the city of Calgary and owners of the Flames on a new arena has officially been terminated. A project that began gaining steam back in 2017, was finalized in 2019, was set to begin construction in 2022, and set to open in 2024 is now completely erased and the Flames are back to square one.
The $600MM project has hit some funding roadblocks along the way as both the city and ownership group have suffered losses during the pandemic. This past summer, with inevitable construction delays on the way, the initial agreement was amended, groundbreaking was pushed to 2022, and the Flames took on an additional $12.5MM in costs. Yet, it seemed like the plan was still on track. However, Calgary mayor Jyodi Gondek stated last month that the team had informed the city that they could not proceed with the agreement as currently constituted. Today, the city announced that the termination of the agreement had been made official due to “unresolved issues”.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that the two sides already contributed $20-25MM into the project, which is now all for not. The city is set to discuss the situation further in the near future, while there has been no word from the Flames side. Today’s announcement did imply that there was no possibility of reformation of any part of the deal, but with financial commitments already made and a concrete plan hammered out, hopefully some semblance of an alternative path forward can be reached.
Otherwise, where the Flames go from here will become a pressing issue in Calgary. The team will continue to play at the Saddledome in the interim, but the old arena is severely outdated and in need of renovations – or replacement, as the team had hoped. Back in 2017, Flames CEO Ken King even publicly threatened relocation of the franchise if the city of Calgary would not help to fund the arena. It then took several years of often heated negotiations for the two sides to reach an agreement. If they have to start from scratch now, the future of the team in Calgary could be cast back into doubt.