File photo: Interior Image of the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Friday, September 15, 2017. Al Charest/Postmedia
City council members and MLAs will not have dedicated access to a box suite in the new arena, if the proposed deal to replace the Saddledome is approved Tuesday.Currently, city council members, MLAs and organizations like Hockey Calgary and WinSport are provided a certain number of tickets to the Saddledome Foundation suite each year.Each council member, including the mayor, receives access to the suite once a year for up to 12 guests. Additional tickets, as well as food and drinks, aren’t included, so council members typically expense the cost through their office budgets.Postmedia has learned that politicians will no longer enjoy dedicated annual access to a box suite according to terms of the new arena deal that haven’t been made public.“It just wasn’t important to the deal,” said Coun. Jeff Davison, chair of council’s Event Centre Committee said Monday.Related
Coun. Ray Jones, who sits on the board of the Saddledome Foundation which administers the box, suggested it may have come down to money for Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC).“I’m OK with it,” Jones said. “I can understand people wanting to make money off of it and right now they’re not because it’s a giveaway and it probably costs them a lot of money a year to give away a suite for every game.”The Flames declined to respond to questions Monday about the terms of the new deal.Davison said he won’t miss the suite access since council members may have other options to entertain guests or thank volunteers.“It’s not like it’s accessible to you at all times,” Davison said. “You might get access once a year to it. It’s good; we like to take members of the community or presidents of the community associations or people that have provided great volunteer service to the city, so it’s a nice sort of give-back. But if we can do that differently, I think there’s much more benefit to that.”
Ward 6 Councillor Jeff Davison speaks to media outside Council Chambers.
Dean Pilling /
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s rarely used the Saddledome box, mostly due to scheduling issues.“I have used it for community volunteers and city staff who’ve gone above and beyond over the course of the year. They’ll get a random phone call from me saying, ‘The mayor would like to take you to a hockey game,’” Nenshi said. “The problem is I’m super cheap because I find the catering very expensive, so they get popcorn when we go.”But Nenshi said there may be alternative access or benefits provided to council in the new agreement. “As far as I understand, there is a different way of recognizing community in the proposed deal,” Nenshi said, adding that it could involve a distribution of a number of game tickets to council members.Coun. Jeromy Farkas said he has never used the Saddledome box suite and argues Calgarians won’t be missing out when the perk is eliminated in the new building.“I have no problem with the city not having an entitlement that way,” Farkas said. “This box, the present box, my understanding is that it was more an entitlement for the politicians, which is not necessarily a community benefit.”Edmonton city council members do not have dedicated access to a suite or tickets to Oilers games in Rogers Place, according to a spokesperson for that email@example.comTwitter: @mpotkins