Calgary arena project up to $60M over budget: City officials

Construction on Calgary's new arena has yet to break ground, but the estimated budget is already up to $60 million higher than the price tag agreed upon in 2019. 

Calgary city council heard an update on the event centre project in a closed door meeting, then the budget increase was revealed in public after 10 p.m. Monday. 

"The response that we received from the general manager was that they're looking at about $50-60 million over budget right now on this project," said Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek, who is also running for mayor this fall.

The initial cost for the new home for the Calgary Flames was set at $550 million, which would be split between the city and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC). An official ask for more money from the city hasn't been made, Gondek said, and it hasn't been made public why the cost is going up. 

The project has been on pause since April due to "differences" in the budget, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) said at the time. 

Sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations told CTV News that CSEC requested millions in additional funding, that the CMLC be removed as project manager and that more land be allocated to the project. 

Council would have to agree to any such changes with a public vote. That request and vote has not been made in public so far. 

CSEC did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the CMLC said it had no additional information to report. 

"The lack of information is really starting to undermine public support for the project. I think a deal is a deal and we should stick with it," said Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas, who is also running for mayor this fall.  

"It's not about whether you're for or against the arena deal. I think that those who are for it want to know that council is delivering what is promised," he said.

"And those who are against the deal want to make sure council is being responsible in the spending of public money."

Construction on the project is supposed to start in August, though a final design has not been agreed upon. 

"There are a number of reasons, a number of factors which are around requirements for a facility like the event centre," Stuart Dalgleish, the city's planning and development GM told council Monday night. 

"Requirements for the interior, the exterior design, the public realm that have contributed ... we're still working on that estimate," he said. 

There's no timeline now for when the design will be completed or when construction could start. The building is supposed to open in May 2024. 

Council will get another update on the arena project on July 26.