WebStamp July 31, 2019
Preserving Calgary’s Historic Saddle
For over the last 35 years Calgarians have gathered in an Iconic saddle-shaped structure at the Stampede grounds to enjoy sports, events, venues, and The Greatest Show On Earth. Now, after 4 years of heated discussion, a proposal was accepted to replace the Saddledome with a new Event Centre for a greater and better entertainment experience. A new Event Centre is definitely needed in our ever-growing city to attract the many venues that by-pass us with the Saddledome being unsuitable due to the hyperbolic paraboloid concrete shell. It is a shame that Calgary has to lose a historic Iconic symbolizing our equestrian roots and Olympic history in the name of progress.
The Corral was the largest arena in Canada west of Toronto when built in 1950 but was below major league standards by the 1970s leading to the folding of the leading World Hockey Association's Calgary Cowboys. With the Calgary Flames arriving in 1980, a new arena was needed to meet NHL standards. Along with including the construction as part of the 1988 Olympics, the Saddledome was built. Since then there have been many great hockey games and entertainment venues gracing Calgary’s Iconic Saddle.
When the proposal for the Event Centre was introduced a study was commissioned by the Saddledome Foundation to list possible options for the Saddledome. The resulting report examines operating without a major tenant, repurposing, decommissioning, and the cost of demolition. Running the Saddledome without a major tenant would incur a yearly loss of $1.4 million. Repurposing the Saddledome into a modern recreation facility would cost around $165 million and would generate a $2 million yearly return.
Turning the Saddledome into a unique event space as a large convention centre would involve spending $156 million providing a net yearly operating income of almost $1.5 million. As a convention centre, it would be in direct competition with the new BMO centre expansion that engulfed the old Coral. Another option that would complement the new Event Centre is downsizing the Saddledome into a smaller capacity venue facility.
This would allow for smaller venues to perform where the new Event Centre would be too large for. The outer and upper areas would be converted into office, meeting, program and hospitality related spaces. This option would cost around only $53 million to complete. According to the design in the report, it would cost $900,000 a year to operate. I believe with some redesigning the smaller event centre with recreation facilities, shops, cafés, and public gathering areas it could become profitable.
Another considered future use for the Saddledome was redevelopment for the 2026 Olympic Games which would have secured a future for it. Decommissioning the Saddledome would cost $800,000 a year to maintain. The last option, which we want to avoid, is demolition at a cost of $13 million dollars.
The Saddledome has been home for the Calgary Flames, Calgary Hitmen, and Calgary Roughnecks. Along with the 1988 Olympics, there have been many other sporting events held in the dome such as Briar, Canadian Figure Skating, and World Junior Championships and a CHL Top Prospects Game. Many other events have also taken place here including the Rotary International and Liberal Leadership conventions, the Canadian Country Music Awards, and many concerts. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were honoured guests at the Saddledome for Alberta’s Centennial celebration.
The Iconic Saddledome has developed roots in Calgary’s history as a symbol of the city’s progress. The parabolic roof represents our Cowboy heritage and technical ingenuity. It has been a place where Calgarians have gathered for over 35 years enjoying sports, concerts and special events. Calgary has lost many historic buildings over the years and it would be a shame to lose one so Iconic and a symbol of Calgary because of progress. We need to preserve our heritage and show where we have come from and where we are going. Make your M.A.D. Move Making A Difference Saving the Iconic Saddledome. Take the Survey and voice your opinion.
Articles in this Issue
WebStamp July 31, 2019