Sports

King of the hill

SAIT students get informed on the proposed new complex

Ken King invited students and faculty of SAIT Polytechnic on Tuesday, Dec. 1, to be educated on his new passion project: Calgary Next.

As the president and CEO of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), King has become the poster-boy for the estimated $900 million project.

Speaking to approximately 40 people, his statement was clear and concise.

“[CSEC] are the catalyst,” for the development of the West Village compound, which has its share of problems.

The first priority, and one that will get done regardless of this new project, is the removal of creosote.

As a repercussion of the Creosote Canada plant that stood from 1924-1962 beside the Bow River, the creosote leached into the ground.

The contamination has reached as far as the Hillhurst community, and something needs to be done sooner than later.

Currently, a third-party contractor is evaluating the estimated cleanup costs, and hopes to have the report ready by the end of 2015.

The hope is to share costs with all levels of government as well as with CSEC itself.

Once removed, the proposed facility does present some merit.

The Saddledome opened in 1983, and was part of Calgary’s Olympic infrastructure.

Also holding its place as the CFL’s oldest stadium, by nearly 30 years, is McMahon Stadium, which opened in 1960.

“By the time we cut the ribbon on the new stadium, the Saddledome will be 40 years old.” In short, the city is due for an upgrade.

The proposed fieldhouse, a multisport facility for amateur sport, has been in the works since 2010 by the city and would be included in this recreational park complex.

Rogers Arena, the new Edmonton Oilers facility, just received $279 million from taxpayers, which is roughly half the cost.

“The Edmonton deal was a very good deal, for everyone,” King said.

“We would take that deal.”

As far as public perception, King said roughly five per cent are “dead set against it,” 18-20 per cent are weighing it and 47-57 per cent are in favour.

“[Public perception is] way better than we thought it was going to be.” The session was to help educate the public on what the organization proposes.

King said this wasn’t “The Bully Pulpit,” but meant to inform the public on what he hopes eventually comes to fruition. City council is expected to weigh in on the facility in April 2016.

“If, in April, the city finds a legitimate reason to stop this project, then that’s what we’ll do.” To find out more on the Calgary Next project, visit

www.calgarynext.com

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