Executives to mediate arena talks between city, Flames ownership

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The mediation group consists of three people with backgrounds in commercial real estate development

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Three Calgary businessmen have engaged with Calgary Flames ownership with the goal of facilitating a new arena deal with the city.

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Calgary planning and development manager Stuart Dalgliesh revealed the identity of the third party selected by the city to restart arena negotiations at a Wednesday meeting of council’s events centre committee.

The third party consists of three people with backgrounds in commercial real estate development — John Fisher, CBRE executive vice-president; Guy Huntingford, NAIOP Calgary strategic director; and Phil Swift, Ayrshire Group executive chair.

The group reports to city administration and is under a strict confidentiality agreement, Dalgliesh said.

“I believe that this is a very positive point in the process, in the progress toward getting to the potential for agreements to realizing a new event centre for Calgary,” he said.

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City administrators gave the event centre committee its first update on arena talks Wednesday in a lengthy meeting behind closed doors.

John Fisher, CBRE executive vice president, will help mediate between the city and Flames ownership.
John Fisher, CBRE executive vice president, will help mediate between the city and Flames ownership. Photo by Postmedia file

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Dalgliesh remained tight-lipped about details, and said there’s no definitive commitment or timeline for a new arena deal.

Event centre committee chair Coun. Sonya Sharp said it’s “going to take some time” before the progress reaches its next stage. But she said she was pleased with the update Wednesday.

“We had a hurdle, and that was building a relationship. And we’ve done that, we’re on our way,” Sharp said.

“Everyone wants an event centre built . . . The city should be excited, Calgarians should be happy about this moment.”

The Wednesday update comes during the Flames’ second-round playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers, with Calgary on the brink of elimination following a Game 4 loss in Edmonton on Tuesday night.

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Sharp declined to comment on whether increased revenue for the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp. during the playoff run could give the city more leverage in negotiations.

CSEC did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.

Guy Huntingford, NAIOP Calgary strategic director.
Guy Huntingford, NAIOP Calgary strategic director. Photo by Postmedia file

The previous arena agreement between the two parties fell apart in the closing weeks of 2021, when CSEC pulled out of the $650-million deal over $16 million in cost increases related to climate and infrastructure expenses.

In January, council directed administration to explore avenues for a new event centre project.

That request included having a third party look into whether parties other than Flames ownership may want to partner with the city on the project. When pressed, Dalgliesh only said the appointed third party was having discussions with the city and CSEC.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek was one of several council members not on the event centre committee who sat in on Wednesday’s meeting.

She told reporters she’s happy with the committee’s progress to date.

“We need to be patient with what comes following this and I think the playoffs are something we’re all focused on right now, so let’s keep our eyes on that prize,” Gondek said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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