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GTR Installs Shaw Sports Turf and Hydrochill at Commonwealth Stadium
Todd Britton June 1, 2015

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(EDMONTON, Alberta) – GTR Turf and Shaw Sports Turf have completed installation of an all new synthetic turf field at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

GTR Turf of Saint-Colomban, Quebec, was selected to complete the field installation at Commonwealth Stadium.  Shaw Sports Turf of Dalton, Georgia is the manufacturer of the product.

“This is a great honour for GTR Turf,” said Luc Rochon, President & CEO of GTR Turf.  “To have been selected to provide the field for such a prestigious stadium says a great deal about the quality of our work.”

GTR Turf was selected in a competitive bid process and by the recommendation of the architect, JSA Sport Architecture of British Colombia, and Canada Soccer.

Along with Commonwealth Stadium, GTR Turf have also installed surfaces at Rocky Stone Field in Moncton, New Brunswick; Winnipeg Soccer Complex in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Henry Singer Sports Centre in Edmonton, Alberta as part of the overall project.  All surfaces will meet the FIFA Recommended 2 Star requirements for football (soccer) turf.

The group making the decision also spent time at GTR Turf’s installation at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam, British Columbia.  This field played a significant role in the decision to use GTR Turf and Shaw Sports Turf at Commonwealth Stadium.

Commonwealth Stadium, the focal point of the project, is the host stadium for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL.  This summer, the stadium will host 11 matches during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, including Canada’s first two matches, the semi-final match on Canada Day, and the match for third place on July 4.

The Shaw Sports Turf system used for the installation is the PowerBlade Elite 2.5 system.  PowerBlade Elite is made with an advanced HP+ monofilament fiber and is the next generation in engineered performance. The system is designed around performance criteria that measures both athlete-surface and ball-surface interactions.

PowerBlade Elite delivers a quality turf system with the best combination of durability, playability and safety.  PowerBlade Elite is an engineered system specifically built to meet the stringent laboratory and field tests of FIFA.  The FIFA Quality Programme ensures that the Shaw Sports Turf field delivers the maximum level of performance and quality to athletes.

The field at Edmonton will also feature Shaw Sports Turf’s innovative HydroChill product.  When athletes sweat, evaporative cooling takes place when evaporation of moisture from the skin’s surface has a cooling effect.  HydroChill works on the same principle.  As the turf surface is heated by solar radiation, moisture stored in the turf is released, leaving a cooler, more comfortable surface for athletes.

The technology is applied to a field where components react and form a coating on the infill.  The field is watered to activate HydroChill and then energy from sunlight drives out water, removing heat from the surface.  The cooling effect of HydroChill after watering can last two to three days.  Watering alone can result in some short-term cooling, but a flash-effect means temperatures can rise and quickly exceed uncomfortable levels of heat.  HydroChill creates a substantial and sustained temperature difference.

HydroChill provides maximum benefit when the sun is nearest the Earth.  During the summer months the sun is positioned overhead, causing surfaces to absorb more energy, resulting in hotter temperatures.  Temperature differences of 50 degrees have been seen on an outdoor field.  Studies have shown that temperature differences of over 30 degrees provide a noticeable increase in the comfort level of athletes.

The research behind HydroChill was extensive and was conducted for three years, both in laboratory tests and in real-world field applications currently in use by athletes.  Shaw Sports Turf’s testing facilities include an entire lab dedicated to the study of heat on turf.  It houses a custom-built solar simulator with a watering mechanism that simulates rainfall so testing can be conducted on a year-round basis.  Tests on a variety of outdoor surfaces were conducted with thermocouples, an Infrared thermometer and by a certified thermographer with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera.

“This field is used for elite teams and events,” said Chuck McClurg, Vice President of Shaw Sports Turf.  “We believe the quality of the field must meet the level of play and that makes our PowerBlade Elite system the perfect match.”

Shaw Sports Turf has also donated a mini-pitch, which will be used outside the stadium for special events.  In July, the pitch will be donated to the City of Edmonton.

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Newest to oldest artificial turf installations

2016 Regina - TBA
May 2015 Edmonton - Shaw Sports Turf PowerBlade Elite 2.5 system with HydroChill (FIFA Approved)
May 2015 Vancouver - Polytan LigaTurf RS+CoolPlus World Cup Edition 260 W ACS 90 Bionic Fibre Infill (FIFA Approved)
February 2015 Toronto (Rogers Centre) - AstroTurf 3D Xtreme
July 2014 Hamilton - FieldTurf Revolution 1US (FIFA Approved)
July 2014 Montreal (Olympic Stadium) - Act Global Xtreme Turf DX45 TPE/S20 (FIFA Approved)
June 2014 Ottawa - FieldTurf Revolution 1US (FIFA Approved)
May 2014 Moncton - FieldTurf Revolution 1US (FIFA Approved)
April 2014 Calgary - FieldTurf Revolution
May 2013 Montreal (Percival Molson) - FieldTurf Revolution
October 2012 Winnipeg - FieldTurf Revolution 1US (installed previous to opening in 2013) (FIFA Approved)
May 2007 Regina - FieldTurf

Edited by Joe MacCarthy

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Did the province pay too much for B.C. Place's artificial turf ahead of FIFA Women's World Cup?
Bob Mackin The Georgia Straight June 10th, 2015

Five months after FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, emphatically reaffirmed that Canada would host the first Women’s World Cup (WWC) played entirely on artificial turf, pitch politics are yielding to questions about economics.

United States national-team captain Abby Wambach led the failed switch-to-natural-grass movement and told ESPN in early May that FIFA turned down Ohio-based Scotts Miracle-Gro’s offer to pay for grass pitches at all six WWC venues, including that of the July 5 final host, B.C. Place Stadium.

At the end of May, the public-owned home of the Vancouver Whitecaps and B.C. Lions replaced its 2011-installed synthetic pitch at a cost of $1.327 million.

But did British Columbians pay too much?

B.C. Pavilion Corporation (PavCo) chose Burnaby turf distributor Centaur Products to install the new Polytan LigaTurf surface in the stadium, which hosted the first of nine WWC matches on June 8. The Crown corporation said it is paying $827,000, with the rest from the Canadian Soccer Association ($400,000) and Rugby Canada ($100,000), the host of next March’s inaugural Canada Sevens. Both national sport organizations receive substantial government subsidies.

By comparison, the new Shaw Sports Turf field at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium had an announced $800,000 price tag, split by the City of Edmonton and the CSA. FIFA ordered the pitch switch where the WWC kicked off June 6 after broadcasters complained that erased Canadian Football League lines were still visible during last summer’s Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

Likewise, broadcasters also wanted a greener pitch at B.C. Place, which claims that it was planning for a new rug in 2016. The old turf, trucked away at the City of Surrey’s expense for anticipated use in Newton, originally cost PavCo $1.2 million and had a 40-millimetre blade height. FIFA and World Rugby agreed in 2009 to a new 60-mm standard.

Crews installed the new field in time for the Whitecaps to host Real Salt Lake on May 30, the day after FIFA voted scandal-plagued Sepp Blatter into a fifth term as president, only to have him announce his resignation the following week after more criminal bribery and corruption allegations emerged.

FIFA boasted a record US$5.7 billion in revenue from 2011 to 2014, which included US$55 million from soccer-ball and artificial-turf manufacturers paying the FIFA Quality Program for testing and certification.

Polytan distributor Centaur appeared to have the edge at B.C. Place because the request for proposals insisted on reusing the 30-mm elastic shock-absorbing layer it installed under the field in 2011.

Provincial Crown corporation PavCo told unsuccessful bidders AstroTurf, FieldTurf and UBU Sports, in writing, on March 27: “The chosen Centaur/Polytan turf was the only product certified to meet both FIFA 2-Star and World Rugby Regulation 22 specifications as tested on the existing (shock absorbing) elastic-layer at B.C. Place Stadium; a mandatory criteria of the RFP [request for proposals].”

AstroTurf is on the list of 19 FIFA licensees, while Polytan and FieldTurf are among FIFA’s nine and World Rugby’s seven preferred producers.

PavCo consultant Robert Johnston, a Victoria sports-facility architect who was involved in the $514-million B.C. Place renovation, prepared the RFP. He declined to do an interview and did not respond to a question about whether the Centaur bid was the only one that could have satisfied the RFP as it was written, instead referring the Straight to PavCo, whose chair, Stuart McLaughlin, and CEO, Ken Cretney, did not respond to interview requests.

Neither PavCo nor its parent, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, would release the bid values or even deny that Centaur was the highest bidder.

During an April 29 budget-estimates hearing, NDP PavCo critic David Eby asked Todd Stone, the B.C. Liberal minister responsible for the Crown corporation, if the unsuccessful bids’ values would be released so British Columbians could learn why they are paying more than Albertans. Stone refused and referenced government procurement policy. (That policy states that it upholds the principles of “competition, demand aggregation, value for money, transparency and accountability” and purports to correspond with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.)

“There’s a variety of factors that come into play in this kind of a request for proposal, which is what this was,” Stone answered Eby, according to Hansard. “The factors included, obviously, price, but not just price. Also looked at product quality, overall quality of the product—the end result, the surface.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Centaur pricing came under fire. The Guelph Mercury reported on November 29, 2010, that Centaur charged the University of Guelph about $900,000 for a Polytan field when FieldTurf said it had bid $631,298. Centaur president David Wilson did not respond to interview requests, and marketing director Scott Huth referred the Straight to PavCo. FieldTurf vice president Darren Gill and AstroTurf Canada vice president Kenny Gilman were quoted in the Ontario story and involved in the PavCo bid but both declined comment for this story.

Don Hardman, the chief stadia officer for Canada’s WWC national organizing committee, said in an interview: “There were some other options that were available in Edmonton. The e-layer there has more flexibility and has been approved in a wider variety of systems than what the Polytan layer that’s existing in B.C. Place is. So we selected a manufacturer, we went with Shaw in Edmonton, and they were able to utilize an e-layer that was already preapproved and part of a certified system in the Shaw inventory.”

Meanwhile, pre–Women’s World Cup training scheduled for Empire Fields was relocated to False Creek Flats’ Trillium Park until June 1. Organizers announced on May 19 a last-minute job to remove the AstroTurf that PavCo installed at Empire in 2010 when it was a temporary stadium for the Lions and Whitecaps during B.C. Place renovations.

The city budgeted $5.17 million in 2011 to convert the former Empire Stadium site into a multisport park; that ballooned to $10.5 million. Completion was delayed until this spring for various reasons. WWC organizing-committee spokesman Richard Scott told the Straight it was paying $575,000 to install new AstroTurf. The removed AstroTurf will be stored while the park board ponders its next use.

Scott said the WWC national organizing committee, with a $90-million budget, would issue a spending report after the tournament. The federal Department of Canadian Heritage, which committed $15 million, denies it is funding stadium upgrades. B.C. is one of six WWC 2015 host provinces contributing $2 million each.

Rugby Canada had a $13.3-million budget in 2013, including a $5.1 million contribution split almost evenly between the Government of Canada and World Rugby. Only $793,000 came from sponsors. CSA does not publish its financials, but president Victor Montagliani said in a 2014 interview that the budget runs between $20 million and $22 million a year and the organization has a $5-million reserve. Sport Canada contributed $6.3 million for sport hosting and core funding in fiscal 2013-14.

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I've really neglected the new Mosaic in Regina and it is going up very quickly.  They already have some brickwork and glass installed.  In the video, notice the local brick be used.  I'll post some pics soon.

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I've really neglected the new Mosaic in Regina and it is going up very quickly. They already have some brickwork and glass installed. In the video, notice the local brick be used. I'll post some pics soon.

It's looking more monolithic every day :)

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Breakenridge: Still waiting to hear the Flames' arena plans
Rob Breakenridge for the Calgary Herald July 14, 2015

It was an exciting day in Alberta’s capital on Monday, as Edmontonians learned their new downtown arena region will be known formally as Ice District. Not “The Ice District,” mind you, because, well, that would be weird.

But like many previous arena announcements in Edmonton, this was made with great fanfare. In fact, every twist and turn in the Edmonton arena debate has entailed great fanfare. It’s been a thoroughly public spectacle.

That stands in great contrast to what’s been happening here in Calgary, where the owners of the Flames share the same aspiration as their Edmonton counterparts, but little else, it seems.

Plans for a new arena to replace the Saddledome have been shrouded in secrecy and the team has been remarkably coy and tight-lipped about their plans. Mind you, as a private business, that’s certainly their prerogative. The lingering question is how much the team plans to make this public business. In other words, will they be looking for a significant contribution from taxpayers?

For months, the Flames have been poised to fill in the blanks and provide answers to these questions. Yet, we’re still waiting. Why?

Last November, reports emerged that the Flames were mere weeks away from revealing their plans. However, those weeks and many more passed and nothing happened. By March, it seemed like that announcement was finally going to happen. The mayor and city council had been privately briefed on the plans and an announcement was expected by month’s end. But again, nothing happened.

In early April, the Herald published an exclusive story with details on the team’s plan, which would entail a massive new multi-sport complex on several blocks of land in the West Village — land currently owned by the city. The Flames didn’t deny the story, but the revelations did little to force the team’s hand in making it all official.

So, still we wait. There was the provincial election, which overlapped with an exciting Flames playoff run — admittedly poor and distracting backdrops for an arena announcement. But now, nothing stands in the way of an announcement, and yet it eludes us still.

Again, this could all be a blessing in disguise. If the Flames are planning to proceed largely or exclusively with private funding, there would be little need for extensive public debate and scrutiny. However, if we’re talking about a plan that involved publicly owned land and supersedes the city’s own plans for a new amateur sports field house, then the public has a vested interest.

To their credit, the mayor and city councillors have been skeptical about the need for a significant public contribution to a new Flames arena, although there appears to be some appetite for providing land for the project. That’s not a direct contribution of public money, but it’s essentially the same thing. The Flames, for their part, seem to recognize that lack of enthusiasm. Flames CEO Ken King even stated at one point that it was not their intent to “sneak in here and steal money from the city.”

The Flames are a profitable team, owned by some of Alberta’s wealthiest businessmen. Certainly the drop in oil prices, and the corresponding drop in the Canadian dollar, might cut into that. That still doesn’t change the underlying principle: that public dollars should not be used to subsidized private business, especially those which employ millionaires and are owned by billionaires.

There’s a general consensus among economists — backed by the economic literature — that these types of projects add little if nothing to a city’s economy. It simply moves around investment dollars.

That’s not to say there isn’t room for the city and the Flames to partner on certain initiatives where there’s overlapping interests and a clear public interest. But until the Flames make their plans public, we have no idea whether such circumstances exist.

How much longer will they keep us waiting?

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CFL stadium fare has changed dramatically
We rank our favourite Canadian Football League stadiums
Mike Beamish, Vancouver Sun August 6, 2015

VANCOUVER — With three new or refurbished stadiums opening in the past couple of years and a fourth about to be completed, the rankings of our favourite Canadian Football League stadiums have changed dramatically, too. Overall impressiveness is determined by several criteria. Size, ambience, creature comforts, aesthetics, food …and, of course, convenience of coverage from the press-box perch.

1. INVESTORS GROUP FIELD (WINNIPEG)

"It's a very loud place, hard for a visiting team to communicate," says B.C. Lions head coach Jeff Tedford. "I thought it sounded more like 60,000." With its undulating, corrugated metal roof covering most of the stadium's 33,500 seats, IGF is the ideal size for a CFL ballpark. It has vaulted Winnipeg from worst (good riddance, Canad Inns Stadium) to first among the league's stadiums. Equal-opportunity washrooms (14 for each gender) with separate entrances and exits ensure flow-through traffic from the rum huts and vodka bars on the concourse level, where fans can view the game, on the field or from one of 250 TV monitors, while plunking down $12 for a 16-oz. cup of premium beer.

Downside: Stadium is a long hike from Portage Avenue and traffic snarls on the way to the game are a regular occurrence.

2. TD PLACE STADIUM (OTTAWA)

Part of the $450-million Lansdowne Park restaurant, shopping and residential project south of the downtown core, TD Place Stadium trumps every other CFL outdoor venue for its neighbourhood vibe. Outside its doors are a host of trendy bars and restaurants for pre- and post-game noshing and imbibing. Inside the young, urban crowd seems bent on having a good time (not necessarily hung up on watching a good football game). Crowd circulation has been criticized for its lack of flow, however, especially when fans try to access concessions and rest rooms. The Ottawa Citizen's RedBlacks beat writer, Gord Holder, gives the media facilities a similar "mixed review." Good sight lines a plus.

Downside: Limited washrooms and congested elevators (locker room better accessed through the stairwells) are minuses.

3. TIM HORTONS FIELD (HAMILTON)

Pivoted 90 degrees to afford better sight lines and protection from the blustery winds that blow off Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay, Tim Hortons Field has risen phoenix-like from the footprint of old Ivor Wynne Stadium to provide Hamiltonians with unimagined luxury: Minimum 19-inch-wide seats, ranging to 21 inches, with armrests and cupholders, a far cry from the bench seating that was a throwback to football's prehistoric past. "It's also all about the quality of the bathrooms, too," says Ticats reporter Carol Phillips, recalling that the women's bathroom in the press box at Ivor Wynne could never be locked, resulting in some embarrassing trips to the biffy.

Downsides: Concession food is unimaginative and not cheap; better bring binoculars when heading to the upper-stratosphere press box.

4. BC PLACE STADIUM (VANCOUVER)

Given a half-billion-dollar facelift at public expense, many times the original estimate, the appeal and attraction of BC Place varies wildly, depending on whether you're a fed-up provincial taxpayer or an enthralled out-of-town visitor raving about the innovative concession food, the iconic LED windows and the giant JumboTron. "I personally love covering games at BC Place," says CFL writer Kirk Penton of the Winnipeg Sun. "The view from the press box is the best in the league — by a mile.”

Downsides: Nonetheless, the stadium's biggest failing is its sheer size — 54,500 seats. Lacking both intimacy, fans and, this season, a half-time show beyond the appearance of three talking heads, the esprit under the retractable-roofed stadium is found wanting. It doesn't even have a catchy nickname.

5. PERCIVAL MOLSON STADIUM (MONTREAL)

The most worshipped cathedrals of sport blend tradition with some cutting-edge amenities (Soldier Field, Wrigley Field in Chicago). As such, Molson Stadium, which literally opened 100 years ago, works on one level — the views of downtown Montreal, looking south, and Mount Royal, to the north, are stunning. Wrought-iron fencing and stonework were used to blend seamlessly the old stadium with the expansion on the southside grandstands.

Downsides: For first-time visitors who don’t bring seat cushions or wear Vibram-soled hiking boots, the stadium’s lack of creature comforts can be off-putting. The seating is on benches, with no backs, and the climb to the nose-bleed seats is steep, without railings to cling to. Scary. It's professional football at its most scenic — and its most basic.

6. MOSAIC STADIUM (REGINA)

Broiling in the summer, freezing in the late fall, Roughrider fans have to be as tough as the hardy prairie homesteaders who carved out a living on the grasslands. Prairie madness, once brought on by isolation, has given way to mania for the province's football team. Nobody has more fun at a CFL game than the Melonheads, about to take possession of a new $278-million stadium, just to the west, on Elphinstone Street, when it's finished next year. Fans will take the good memories of Mosaic Stadium with them.

Downsides: The bad ones — long beer lines, sketchy washrooms, the human tide ingressing and egressing up and down labyrinthine ramps — will linger not so much. "There is comfort in visiting Mosaic Stadium (for the tradition)," says Regina Leader-Post sports columnist Rob Vanstone. "But it is simply not a comfortable place to watch a game."

7. COMMONWEALTH STADIUM (EDMONTON)

Albertans know how to stretch a buck. Closing in on 40 years since it opened for the 1978 Commonwealth Games, the expanded and renovated home of the Eskimos is fresh from another rehabilitation and continues to buck the ravages of time and the lethal northern Alberta winters. Commonwealth scores major points for being close to light-rail transit. Any holder of a pre-paid football ticket gets to travel there for free.

Downsides: It takes a good-sized Alberta city, the population of Fort McMurray, to fill it. And with a running track surrounding the field and reminding everyone of the stadium's roots, you can barely make out the players from a long way up. "It's very sterile," says CFL writer Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun. "And I hate the enclosed press box."

8. McMAHON STADIUM (CALGARY)

Calgary is the undisputed tailgating champion of the CFL, although the parking lot action at Fort Whoop-Up can resemble an Arctic street fair when the thermometer tumbles.

Downsides: McMahon’s usefulness as a football stadium (it’s 55 years old and shows every one of those years) also leaves us cold. “Not only does it look like a dinosaur (her daughter is a paleontologist), it has that feel as well,” says Rita Mingo of the Calgary Herald. “The concourse is a cold, grey shell, and the bathroom facilities are horrible.”

9. ROGERS CENTRE (TORONTO)

Since SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) opened in 1989, the 3.25-hectare roof on the mammoth concrete and steel structure has never failed to impress. It has continued to open and shut on command throughout is 26-year history.

Downsides: Still, the staging of CFL games, in a cavernous expanse designed for baseball, has been a problematic proposition since Day 1. "Zero atmosphere and it looks empty with 20,000 people in it," says Chris O'Leary, who covers the Eskimos for the Edmonton Journal. After years of trying valiantly to create a fan experience — kudos to the kickin' pep band, the Argonotes — the football team hopes a move to BMO Field next season, under the MLSE banner, can be its salvation.

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Calgary Flames to share plans for arena project
Annalise Klingbeil, Sammy Hudes, Emma McIntosh, Calgary Herald
August 13, 2015

Plans for a megaproject dubbed ‘CalgaryNEXT’ that will feature a new hockey arena, a football stadium, and an amateur sports field house will be shared with Calgary Flames fans early next week.

Season ticket holders received a vague e-mail signed by Flames executive Ken King on Wednesday that details “one of Calgary’s most transformative projects” and invites recipients to an Aug. 18 information session.

Media received a similar letter inviting them to an information session about the project on Aug. 18 at 2:30.

“We would like to share a proposal for a project that will make all Calgarians and Albertans proud. This has the potential to be one of Calgary’s most transformative projects at a vital time in our city’s history,” states the letter fans received, which was sent Wednesday and promptly posted on local blogs and social media.

“This will be our first public discussion on this project and it is important that you be among the first to know,” it continues.

The project will take up several blocks and is proposed for property west of downtown, near the current Greyhound Station. It will bring together a new arena complex with a football stadium and an amateur sports field house, sources have previously told the Herald.

The Flames brass invited city council to see an overview of CalgaryNEXT a month or two prior to the May provincial election, said Deputy Mayor Diane Colley-Urquhart on Wednesday.

“It’s been the worst kept secret in the City of Calgary really and so I’m just pleased that finally the conversation with Calgarians will begin on (August) 18th,” Colley-Urquhart said.

“It’s really a comprehensive proposal that goes beyond an arena.”

The deputy mayor is scheduled to be briefed by the Flames organization on the arena project on Friday.

In an e-mail, Marion Nader, the spokesperson for Finance Minister Joe Ceci, said the department has received “initial information” about the arena project and believes it is “worth considering.”

Penned by King, president and CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, the short letter sent Wednesday asks recipients to RSVP for an “information session to present the high level scope of the project including a preview of CalgaryNEXT.”

“This is not a formal launch of the project, but it is an opportunity for us to share what has been done to date and introduce our vision for the future,” the letter states.

A new Twitter account called CalgaryNEXT tweeted for the first time on Wednesday, urging viewers to “stay tuned” for more information.

Reached on Wednesday by the Herald, King declined to offer further information about the project.

“We intended that we would talk to our primary stakeholders first … I think it would be most prudent to be fair to everybody on that,” King said. “We’re happy to share the whole vision and the whole concept but it’s really important that it be done in total, as opposed to in pieces.”

City councillors and stakeholders who have seen the plans for the arena project told the Herald they signed confidentiality agreements strictly limiting what they can say.

“It has great potential for tourism. From our sports tourism strategies, it would be a major asset for that,” said Cindy Ady, chief executive officer at Tourism Calgary.

Ady said “a lot more dialogue has to happen” and she’s looking forward to future conversations surrounding the “exciting concept.”

Councillor Ray Jones agreed that the project would transform the city.

“I’ve seen a variety of conceptions,” he said. “I’m glad to see that they’re coming forward with something … There’s lots I would like to mention but I’m not allowed to.”

King has been working on plans for a new arena to replace the aging Saddledome since at least 2007.

In mid-March, he shared plans with Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and the plans were relayed to council in a closed-door session.

Nenshi and council unanimously oppose direct taxpayer subsidies for professional sports buildings, and King tried to head off talk of a massive funding request in a radio station interview earlier this year.

Colley-Urquhart said she isn’t in favour of the city contributing funds to the project.

“I can’t see that there’s an appetite for that but I might be surprised,” she said. “One thing that I’m convinced of for sure is that we need a made-in-Calgary solution. We don’t need an Edmonton solution like they did with public dollars.”

Under an agreement with the City of Edmonton, the Oilers are to pay $130 million for the team’s new arena, with the city covering $200 million and the province kicking in $25 million. An additional $125 million would be generated through a ticket tax.

Coun. Jones agreed that the city shouldn’t contribute funds to the arena project.

“We have so many other things that are more important that needs done in infrastructure. We have all kinds of things like overpasses, interchanges that have to be done and we just don’t have the money for it,” he said. “I wish we had a bottomless pit of money where we could say we would spend it on this, that and the other thing. There’s a lot of wants, but there’s more needs.”

Coun. Druh Farrell, who believes no public dollars, or land, should go into a private arena, said Wednesday she’s skeptical of the arena plans.

“I’ll continue to listen but I’m skeptical,” she said.

Coun. Sean Chu declined to comment on the proposed concept, but said he firmly believes no tax dollars should go to professional sports facilities.

“I won’t be pleased if tax dollars go into any sports team,” he said.

However, Coun. Shane Keating said he may be willing to consider a proposal that would benefit Calgarians.

“In general, I’m not in favour of city money going to a professional team stadium. The city is looking at a number of different things for funding, for our own field house and recreation centres and all of that,” he said, referring to a $202-million proposal for a field house at the Foothills Athletic Park, north of McMahon Stadium.

“But who knows what the (CalgaryNEXT) proposal will be? If it’s a combination of professional and amateur sports, well then that’s maybe something that could be entertained.”

While he said he hasn’t seen any plans for the new arena concept, Coun. Joe Magliocca questioned why a new facility is needed.

“I still think the Saddledome’s in great shape, I think the Saddledome’s working. Why do we have to rush things right now?” he said.

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Flames "CalgaryNEXT" project to be unveiled
Dave Dormer, Calgary Sun August 12, 2015

The Calgary Flames are set to unveil CalgaryNEXT on Tuesday, fuelling speculation the city is about to get a first glimpse at new arena plans.

A source with knowledge of the project who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the proposal calls for a new arena to be built for the Flames along with a stadium-fieldhouse to be shared by the Calgary Stampeders and the public, slated to go in the west end of downtown.

The source said the plan calls for the Flames organization - which also owns the Stampeders - to finance the arena themselves and they will ask for “in the range of $200 million” from the city toward the fieldhouse, which would be open to the public on days it’s not being used by the football club.

The city already has plans to build a $200 million fieldhouse as part of the Foothills Athletic Park redevelopment, however that is currently unfunded.

One issue which will have to be sorted before any development can proceed in the west end of downtown is how to remediate extensive environmental damage — estimated to cost in the neighbourhood of $1 billion — as the area was home to a Creosote Canada plant for several decades.

Testing has shown high levels of creosote in the ground as well as in and under the Bow River.

In a letter penned and signed by president and CEO Ken King — screenshots of which are making the rounds on social media and local blogs — he said the project dubbed CalgaryNext has the potential to be one of this city’s “most transformative projects.”

“This is not a formal launch of the project,” he wrote.

“But it is an opportunity for us to share what has been done to date and introduce our vision for the future.”

The Flames ownership group has long expressed a desire for a new arena but to date they’ve held the plans close to their chests.

King met with Mayor Naheed Nenshi to go over the plans in the spring, however no proposal was put on the table at that time.

Sources confirmed an earlier report the Flames are eyeing the West Village area next to downtown for the proposed arena-stadium-fieldhouse complex, which is currently home to the Greyhound bus station and a pair of car dealerships.

The Flames are holding an information session for season ticket holders on Aug. 18 “to present high level scope of the project,” and will be updating the media on the same day.

Here is Ken King’s letter in its entirety:

It is a great time to be a sports fan and live in this wonderful and vibrant city of Calgary. We would like to share a proposal for a project that will make all Calgarians and Albertans proud.

This has the potential to be one of Calgary’s most transformative projects at a vital time in our city’s history.

This will be our first public discussion on this project and it is important that you be the first to know.

On August 18, we will be hosting an information session to present high level scope of the project including a preview of CalgaryNEXT.

This is not a formal launch of the project, but it is an opportunity for us to share what has been done to date and introduce our vision for the future.

Please confirm your attendance and since space is limited, please RSVP by 12 noon on Friday, August 14.

We hope you can join us,

Best regards,

Ken King
President and CEO
Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corporation

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So it doesn't seem like the Flames are looking for a large amount of public money and it doesn't seem like there's an appetite for that from the City. I assume they'll ask for the same money the Oilers got from the province. Who owns the land that is being considered for this project?

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Construction of CalgaryNEXT likely won't start for another three years if approved for downtown west end
Dave Dormer, Calgary Sun, August 13, 2015

If eventually approved for the downtown west end, construction of the proposed CalgaryNEXT development likely won’t start for another three years, said a source familiar with the project.

And it will include commercial and residential components along with a new arena for the Calgary Flames and a stadium-fieldhouse which will be shared by the Calgary Stampeders and the public.

“I would liken it to Lansdowne Park in Ottawa,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“It will be a sports and entertainment area.

“It would be similar to East Village but certainly not as dense ... you would have hotels and highrises and some office buildings and complexes and all that in the scenario.

“The whole concept is it will incorporate that whole area.”

Lansdowne Park is a 40-acre sports and entertainment complex owned by the city of Ottawa.

While planning is underway, actual construction of the project — being dubbed CalgaryNEXT by the Flames ownership group — likely won’t begin for “three years or so,” said the source.

The Flames ownership group — which also owns the Stampeders football club, Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team and Calgary Hitmen junior hockey squad — is holding a public information session for Flames season ticket holders on Tuesday when they are expected to unveil an overview of the project, which the source said is slated for the west end of downtown where the Greyhound Station and a pair of car dealerships now sit.

Media will be updated the same day.

“This is not a formal launch of the project,” Flames group president and CEO Ken King wrote in a letter to season ticket holders.

“But it is an opportunity for us to share what has been done to date and introduce our vision for the future.”

The source said the Flames organization will finance the arena portion themselves and ask the city to contribute “in the range of $200 million” toward the stadium-fieldhouse, which will be home to the Stampeders for games and practices and otherwise be open for public use.

“I do know they had a funding mechanism all laid out,” said the source.

The city has plans on the books to build a $200 million fieldhouse — a building which can be converted for use by multiple sports or events — as part of the Foothills Athletic Park redevelopment, however it is currently unfunded.

Another hurdle to be cleared will be environmental remediation of the proposed area, which was home to a Creosote Canada plant for a number of decades until the 1960s.

Estimates put the cleanup cost in the neighbourhood of $1 billion.

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Critics cite concerns over arena proposal location, funding
Emma McIntosh, Calgary Herald August 14, 2015

While word that the Calgary Flames will soon unveil plans for a new arena megaproject still had hockey fans buzzing Thursday, critics also pointed to numerous hurdles it would face before it could be built.

The criticism comes the day after the Flames sent a cryptic email to season ticketholders inviting them to learn more about one of the city’s “most transformative” projects, dubbed CalgaryNext, at information sessions on Tuesday.

Though the Flames aren’t commenting yet, it’s understood that the project includes a new arena complex with a football stadium and an amateur sports field house.

Sources have told the Herald that the ownership group is eyeing several blocks of the downtown’s west village area for the development.

But some critics are preemptively warning against using taxpayer dollars to fund the project.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said provincial dollars shouldn’t go towards the CalgaryNext megaproject and he wants the NDP government to make it clear it will reject any funding request.

“This is not the time for sports arenas,” Jean said at a campaign event for the Calgary-Foothills by-election.

“I love the Flames and I’m a fan, just like I am of Edmonton and the Oilers. I think it’s a great opportunity for Albertans to spend some quality time with their family and friends … but during a time when people lose their jobs, I don’t think that’s the time we should consider large investments that are ultimately, and have proven to be, a continuous drain on tax dollars.”

However, interim PC Leader Ric McIver said he would reserve judgment on the Flames’ proposal until he’s seen it.

“I would be very hesitant to commit dollars for a professional sports team. What I don’t know is whether the plan includes a public component or not,” said McIver, a former infrastructure minister.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city council unanimously oppose contributing municipal money to professional sports buildings.

The Edmonton Oilers received government funding to build Rogers Place, its new arena. The city contributed $200 million, with the province offering another $25 million. Another $130 million will be paid by the Oilers, with the remaining $125 million covered by a ticket tax.

Beyond money, others said they were concerned about the potential location of the project.

Much of the West Village is contaminated with creosote, a toxic wood preservative left behind by a factory there in the mid-1900s. A Greyhound station and several car dealerships sit on the land. The city has spent tens of millions to acquire the land, and another $3.5 million to try to clean it up in the 1990s. However, this spring, creosote was found to have seeped across the river.

Coun. Evan Woolley, whose ward includes the area, says the west village needs an “incredible amount of remediation,” which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The land is worth negative money, we can’t have kids playing in sandboxes in the west village right now,” he said.

At the same time, Woolley says he’s excited to see the plans, and that there needs to be a significant amount of community engagement.

“At some point, that building (the Saddledome) will fall apart and will be unusable. What does that discussion look like?” he said.

Community strategist Richard White says there could be a solution for both sides.

“One idea would be that the city leases (the Flames) the land with the condition that they clean it up,” he said.

“It’s a win-win in the sense that the city, after the lease is over, could renew the lease or take the land back, but they’d have land that would be cleaned up.”

White says the city won’t need the west village land for at least the life cycle of another arena, as it still has other urban redevelopments like the east village to work on.

However, for others, there are still many reasons to be excited for the coming proposal. George Brookman, a former Stampede president who sits on the board of directors of the Flames Foundation, says the announcement is coming at the perfect time for Calgarians.

“The city is just in a funk at the moment with these oil prices and everything else,” he said.

We need something to get excited about, and I think this project is really something we can get excited about. It builds community … Interest rates are unbelievably low, there’s lots of people looking for labour right now, materials are low (cost) and we need a boost.

Brookman also says Calgary has desperate need for a field house.

“Edmonton has five, we don’t have one,” he said.

White, however, says it’s important to remember the public hasn’t seen an actual proposal yet.

“None of us have the same information as the Flames,” he said.

“Maybe it’s in error to try to sort of judge a project which we have no details of.”

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Flames expected to unveil 'one giant' sports complex
Annalise Klingbeil, Trevor Howell, Calgary Herald August 18, 2015

After a week-long tease, the owners of the Calgary Flames are expected to unveil their plan Tuesday to build a “giant” enclosed sports complex for the city’s professional hockey and football teams, as well as a public field house.

It’s anticipated that Ken King, CEO of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., will pitch that the CalgaryNEXT megaproject be built near the Bow River, west of downtown near the Greyhound bus station.

The organization and public officials have remained vague about the exact details of the project many expect will combine a new arena for Calgary’s NHL team, a domed football stadium for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders and an amateur sports field house.

While most have remained tight-lipped about the proposal, Ward 5 Coun. Ray Jones hinted Monday that CalgaryNEXT would be a single, massive facility, according to the plan he saw several months ago.

It would all be combined together, all three,” said Jones, a well-known Stamps fan. “I think it’s all just one giant building from what I understand of the plans.”

He cautioned the plan could have changed over the ensuing months and he was excited to see the proposal when it’s presented to season ticket holders at an invitation-only event Tuesday morning on the Stampede grounds.

“It’s a hell of proposal that they’re putting together,” Jones said, adding the Flames are “putting up the majority of the money.”

Plans to replace the aging Scotiabank Saddledome stretch back to at least 2007, when King first began drafting plans for a new arena.

The proposal would move the Stampeders from McMahon Stadium, a 55-year-old facility that sits on University of Calgary land.

It’s unclear what would happen to the football stadium, which was built in 103 days in 1960 and has undergone a number of expansions over the years, if the Stampeders move out.

Larry Robinson, a Canadian Football Hall of Fame member and former Calgary Stampeder defensive back/kicker from 1961 to 1974, said a covered stadium roof would be beneficial for both fans and players.

“If they do it right, they should be able to put a hockey rink and a football field in the same covered building,” he said.

Robinson played countless games in freezing conditions, but today the man behind a 1970 game-winning field goal that’s been dubbed the finest cold weather play of all time, won’t go to McMahon Stadium to watch a game if it’s raining.

“I don’t want to go sit in the cold when you can watch it on TV,” said Robinson, who noted a covered roof would make for a much more comfortable environment.

Calgary Sports and Entertainment also oversees the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League and the Calgary Roughnecks of the National Lacrosse League, both of which currently play at the Saddledome.

In Edmonton, the Oilers’ $480-million new arena will be completed next year. The capital city’s tax-backed loan, ticket tax and parking revenue will cover much of its cost.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and councillors have openly opposed subsidizing professional sports buildings with public money, although some are now showing a willingness to spend tax dollars on the project if the public field house is included.

“If there was a proposal that incorporated a field house and a football stadium, I would be open to discussions about public funds,” said Ward 13 Coun. Shane Keating.

“The reason I’m saying that is the City of Calgary is looking at building their own indoor field house that would work for amateur sports across the board,” Keating said.

Council deemed the field house, which could include an enclosed track and sportsplex for badminton, basketball, soccer and other sports, a public project with an estimated $202-million price tag.

The project sits atop City Hall’s unfunded infrastructure priority list.

“We have to build one,” Jones said. “We’re the only major city in Canada that doesn’t have a multi-purpose sports field. Edmonton has two of them.

“The problem is we don’t have $200 million sitting around doing nothing,” he added.

A city-owned agency is hiring a consultant to study the scope of environmental contamination in the area west of downtown, which was the former home of a creosote plant and has long posed an environmental headache to potential developers.

Previous estimates have put the cleanup costs at between $50 million and $300 million — a cost Keating said the city shouldn’t bear.

“If the Flames organization is looking at that type of thing, that would have to be part of their responsibilities as well,” he said.

“That’s part of the deal,” Keating said. “They can’t build there and actually expect the city to do the clean up.”

Meanwhile, community associations near the land being touted for the new megacomplex are forming an alliance so a united front can be presented as the plans are unveiled.

Representatives from communities including Scarboro, Sunalta and Shaganappi have formed a group dubbed the West Village Neighbourhood Alliance and met a few times over the last six months to discuss the implications of a major sports development in the neighbourhood.

“We don’t know what this announcement is going to be … but we do think we need to work together, if we want to have some input in this process,” said Sunalta Community Association president Nick Twyman.

“We’re in a wait-and-see mode right now … I know the communities that are most directly affected, we’re keen to be engaged and see where this thing goes.”

Currently home to auto dealerships and a Greyhound bus station, the West Village land being touted for the project is located in Sunalta, a small community Twyman said is mostly made up of multi-family dwellings, a lot of rental accommodation and a significant immigrant population.

Social disorder, homelessness, poverty and crime are all existing problems in the neighbourhood, said Twyman, who wants the community to have a say on the potential new major development that will be moving in.

“We don’t want Sunalta to end up like the area around the Stampede grounds right now. It’s a wasteland down there,” he said.

Gary Young, president of the Downtown West Community association, said he’s “cautiously optimistic” as he awaits Tuesday’s news.

Young said traffic is already a major issue in the neighbourhood and will be impacted further by the development.

“We’re right next door (to West Village). Getting traffic in and out is the major thing. Hopefully people will use the transit system to get there,” he said.

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Hasty judgement on new Calgary arena project could rob city of important facility
Eric Francis, Calgary Sun August 18, 2015

*** We will be live streaming an afternoon press conference where Flames representatives are expected to pull back the curtain on the secretive 'CalgaryNEXT' project. The press conference begins at 2:30 p.m. Look for it on calgarysun.com ***

In the midst of unveiling their vision for a new arena, football stadium and fieldhouse the Calgary Flames highly-anticipated coming out party will also feature an ask.

As team president and CEO Ken King officially kick-starts a conversation Tuesday that will set the record straight on what the Flames hope to build in the city’s west end he will reveal a price tag associated with the massive project.

As in, how much taxpayers will be asked to help foot the bill.

The endless rumours and reports on the project to this point have prompted plenty of politicians and Calgarians to take early stands on the unacceptability of putting a single dime towards “building an NHL rink for rich owners and players.”

It’s a ridiculously simplistic, predictable and narrow-minded response that could cost the city one of the most transformative projects in Calgary lore.

When King unveils the size and scope of what his ownership group hopes to build the important thing for locals is to keep an open mind.

While the sticker shock of building these state-of-the-art, world class facilities is sure to grab the biggest headlines what can’t be lost is the opportunity being offered up here.

This city is in the midst of a sizeable recession with no apparent end in sight.

Massive capital projects like these are being shelved around the province while thousands of people are being laid off.

Yet, while many suggest the timing couldn’t be worse for the Flames to show up at City Hall and the provincial legislature with hat in hand, looking for funding partners, the opposite may be true: perhaps never more does this city need an economic boost like this.

Never before has a Canadian city ever bolstered its landscape with a new NHL hockey rink and pro football stadium at the same time. Good luck finding any city in North America that has.

These opportunities just don’t come along, especially with a fieldhouse to provide the city with another world-class venue to get kids and adults active.

Of course that will cost money.

If able to build what they hope to build in the next 3-5 years, these facilities will be the envy of the North American sports landscape.

Quite a legacy for this city.

Through years of rumours and outside debate King has asked all along only that people judge the potential project once ownership’s vision has been fully unveiled.

At long last that happens Tuesday.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the Sun well over a year ago the cost of cleaning up the creosote-contaminated land would be $500 million. Estimates have since varied, which is why one of the next steps is finding experts to find an accurate price tag.

What that cost is and who pays it are huge question marks that need to be factored into the equation.

How much are the owners willing to pay, what sort of ticket tax might all this be accompanied by and how are parking and concession revenues split between various stakeholders?

Don’t expect the Flames to have all the answers tomorrow as this is being deemed an information session as opposed to an unveiling.

The time has simply come to get this conversation/debate into the open and they’ll do that by sharing how much has been done towards making a potentially transformative project a reality.

Money is tight these days and the Flames will have to demonstrate to everyone the benefits associated with spending millions of tax dollars on venues that do so much more than house pro sports teams.

No matter how high the initial ask might be, open minds are indeed needed to filter through a process that may eventually land this city something the city and the province can take endless pride in while also transforming a west end essentially being used as a parking lot right now.

Sports fan or not, every Calgarian is a stakeholder, which is why open, honest discussion is needed, making Tuesday’s presentations to season-ticket holders and the media so highly-anticipated.

Eventually this will get done.

But only if people are willing to do the work by learning the facts and letting politicians know their thoughts.

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