Hockey fans in town are eagerly waiting to see if talks about a new arena deal will resume between the City of Calgary and the Calgary Sports Entertainment Group, now that the municipal election is over. A sports economist from Concordia University believes discussions will happen in the coming months, however the use of taxpayer dollars for professional sports teams is a tough sell.
Moshe Lander said the Calgary Flames would love to tap into what’s called a community revitalization program to help pay for the cost of a new arena, which has been used to help construct the East Village. But there is a problem, Lander questioned whether the city and businesses in the area will buy into the plan.
“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what new economic activity is because of the East Village expanding on its own, or the East Village expanding because of the arena. So there’s the potential for businesses to get caught up in this levy wouldn’t otherwise make sense.”
Many economists argue the economic impact of arenas are often exaggerated. Lander is among those questioning the revenue generated in Edmonton’s Ice District, following hockey games and concerts.
“Whether it’s going to a movie, going to a hockey game, creating a new arena or replacement arena in this case is unlikely to shift substantially the disposable income decisions of consumers,” said Lander.
Lander believes striking a funding formula that works for the Flames and the City is going to be a very complicated process and what’s needed is a consensus where everybody wins.