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Calgarians could be shut out of new NHL arena talks

Summary

Councillor Jeff Davison said earlier this week that public debate isn't necessary during talks for a new arena

A policy analyst from MRU says silencing the public on arena talks might not be a bad thing

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – There are hints we could see a cone of silence around talks to build a new NHL arena in Calgary.

Earlier this week, Ward 6 Councillor Jeff Davison was quoted saying public debate isn’t necessary this time because people understand what’s at stake.

It would appear some on council, including Davison may be trying to stickhandle around the kind of backlash that hipchecked previous arena talks and sunk the 2026 Winter Olympics bid.

Keeping talks quiet might not be a bad thing, according to policy analyst Richard Sutherland at Mount Royal University.

“There’s been some lessons learned, that when you open it up too much it really generates a lot of sound and fury.”

READ MORE: NHL arena back on city’s priority list

Sutherland said council is elected to make tough decisions with the public purse and talks around a new NHL rink fall into that category.

“Governing by plebiscite can make a place ungovernable,” Sutherland said. “We do elect them to make decisions and this is a decision they are making.”

Sutherland said spending tax dollars on an NHL arena makes little economic sense, but admitted there may be a public benefit.

READ MORE: Calgary committee getting better sense of proposed arena costs

“If you’ve decided you want to have a shot at getting it done, then do the work, see how people negotiate in private without the glare of the media and public opinion and see what they come up with.”