Mayor Amarjeet Sohi seeks fair treatment for Edmonton after UCP commits $330 million for Calgary’s arena project

Cam Lewis
1 year ago
The Calgary Flames have a deal in place to build a new arena.
The Flames, the City of Calgary, and the Province of Alberta made a joint announcement on Tuesday about plans to build a stadium for the Flames in Stampede Park that’ll also feature an event centre, a 1,000-seat community rink, and an enclosed plaza nearby.
The $1.2 billion project would receive contributions from all three parties. The Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation has committed $365 million for the project while the City and the Province are set to kick in $537.3 million and $330 million respectively.
Alberta Premier and United Conservative Party leader Danielle Smith confirmed during the announcement that the deal can’t be made official until after the upcoming provincial election on May 29…
Amarjeet Sohi, Edmonton’s mayor, said following the joint announcement on Tuesday that he’s “very happy for Calgary” but that he’d like to speak with whoever winds up in the premier’s chair following the election about evening things up for Edmonton.
“When we built Rogers Place and the surrounding development, we asked the province for support and we were told that we’re not going to get any support,” Sohi told reporters following the announcement in southern Alberta. “So we would love to sit down with the new premier, after the election, whoever the premier is, to talk about the needs of our city.”
Edmonton’s $613-million downtown arena project that was agreed to back in 2013 was paid for by the team, the City of Edmonton, and a city-levied ticket surcharge. The Katz Group put in $166 million, the City paid roughly $313 million through a community revitalization fund, and the rest is being paid off over time through the ticket surcharge.
The City of Edmonton asked the province for funding and was declined any direct contributions by two different Alberta Premiers, Ed Stelmach and Allison Redford.
Back in 2013 when Smith was the leader of the Wild Rose Party, she said that middle-class taxpayers were reluctant to support having public money used to support arena projects for professional sports franchises.
“I think that you would find that people are reluctant to support a proposal where middle-class taxpayers see a portion of their dollars that would go to support franchises where you do have millionaire players and billionaire owners,” Smith said.
Smith said on Tuesday that she’s willing to discuss the possibility of Edmonton receiving provincial money for additional improvements to Rogers Place and the surrounding area downtown.
“I felt like we had a little bit more work to do in Calgary, just to be able to bridge that [downtown revitalization] gap,” Smith said. “We’re prepared to have a conversation, as well, if there’s additional work that we need to do in Edmonton so that both of our downtowns in Calgary and Edmonton can grow out together. I think people expect that the province is going to do these kinds of major infrastructure investments.”
Sohi said that Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium is in need of $180 million in upgrades so that it can be suitable for top-level international soccer competitions. He also noted that other “cultural centres” in Edmonton could use some funding from the province.
“It’s not about competition, it’s more about collaboration, it’s more about making sure that Edmonton is getting equitable treatment, that we’re getting fair treatment from the provincial government,” Sohi said. “We would love to sit down with the province to ensure that Edmonton, and our needs as capital city, as a hub for northern Alberta, are met.”

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