Artist renderings shown during a presentation to the city of Calgary on arena/event centre district. Rendering supplied by CMLC.
Rossetti / CMLC
After a marathon session behind closed doors on Tuesday, council will go into overtime next week in search of a decision on an arena proposal to the Calgary Flames.Council emerged from the nearly all-day in-camera discussion around 6 p.m., before voting 7-6 to postpone further discussions on the item — along with a cluster of other items on this week’s agenda — to Monday’s meeting.Coun. Jeff Davison, who chairs council’s event centre — or arena — committee, said the conversation will continue then.“A decision is likely on the framework and so we’ll be seeking that decision,” Davison said.“At the end of the day, it’s a big file. Council really needs to have a wholesome conversation about it.”Last week, the arena committee drafted basic negotiating terms for a deal to replace the Saddledome, though details of the proposal likely won’t be made public until a tentative agreement is reached with the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., which owns the Flames, according to Davison.The draft “term sheet” outlining the city’s bargaining position — as well as a proposed source of funds to contribute to a new arena — was approved by the committee, but still needs to be voted on by council.The proposal would include a cash contribution from the city, according to Davison.City officials and the Flames have been careful to avoid bargaining in public after previous attempts to reach a deal to replace the aging Saddledome collapsed.
Calgary councillor, Jeff Davison speaks to media on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
“A lot of people are going to bring up questions that they had from the past deal, what does the new deal look like compared to that, and the framework we’re really trying to set,” Davison said. “I think it’s really about just setting council expectations and ensuring that everybody’s got the appropriate amount of information.”Davison noted that council is also bringing its new city manager up to speed on the file following the departure of Jeff Fielding from the role, which is taking extra time.He said the lack of a decision Tuesday was neither a setback nor the result of significant opposition to negotiating terms established by the arena committee.“Everybody’s always going to have different questions on it and I wouldn’t necessarily call it opposition. I’d call it healthy conversation,” Davison said.“It’s a mega-project and at the end of the day, they all have their nuances, they all have their own terms, they all have their own structures.”Some have expressed concern that Calgarians won’t have the opportunity to have their say on the arena negotiations until much has already been decided on the file, in private, during negotiations with the Flames.Maintaining the confidence of the public throughout the process is a priority, according to Davison.“That’s part of the conversation that council’s still having, as to when we bring the appropriate amount of information back to the public,” he said.“At some point we will need to present the deal framework to the Calgary Flames . . . It will have to come back to council for ratification, which we fully intend to do in public, and that’s when we would be really looking at the deal itself.”firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/SammyHudes