Emilie Medland-Marchen, September 3, 2015 —
Proposed arena CalgaryNEXT aims to replace both the Scotiabank Saddledome and McMahon Stadium as the main sporting venue in Calgary.
Headed by the Calgary Flames, the $890-million project has received its fair share of criticism. Opponents have mockingly dubbed it “the roach dome” for its bizarre architectural design that resembles two enlarged cockroaches. Others consider the new facilities a wasteful expense when upgrades to other infrastructure are more urgently needed.
But investment in these types of projects isn’t a new trend in Calgary. It follows a history of expenditure on high performance sporting facilities that have been a focal point in the city for the past 50 years.
Since the 1988 Olympics, Calgary has expanded to become one of the world’s premier centres for high-performance sport. The city’s training facilities and sporting environments for top athletes are on par with almost any other city in the world. This is partially due to the building of large-scale facilities for the 1988 Olympics, but also because of the maintenance and quality of these arenas.
Calgary has established itself as both a city that invests in sport and one that cares deeply about its athletes. We provide athletes with a plethora of facilities to use — the Olympic Oval, Canada Olympic Park, the Velodrome, the Saddledome, McMahon Stadium and more. This trend towards sporting excellence continues with the proposed CalgaryNEXT facilities.
The blueprints for this project boast a NHL-size-hockey arena to seat 20,000 people and a multi-sport field house with a 400-metre indoor track, FIFA size soccer field and a CFL turf with 30,000 seats. That’s a pretty hefty proposal, but seeing it realized will be an invaluable asset to up-and-coming athletes in Calgary.
With Canada’s top finishes in the IAAF track and field world championships this past week, a positive outlook for the Calgary Flames this upcoming NHL season, the recurring domination of the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL and the continued resurgence of soccer in Canada, the proposed arena hits all the right notes for summer and winter sports. It provides another facility for athletes to train in and yet another opportunity for Calgary to represent Canada’s sporting success on the international circuit.
Investing in sport and recreation is an invaluable asset to any community, especially one the size of Calgary. We’re one of the fastest growing
cities in the country and it’s clear that continuing development in this kind of infrastructure is incredibly important. Investing in sporting facilities encourages life-long health, wellness and sportsmanship, while ensuring Canadian athletes are competitive in major international events like the Olympics or the Pan-American Games.
But above all, sports help bring meaning to being a Calgarian. As our city rallies around competing teams and athletes, we form a close sense of community and camaraderie as we cheer for a common cause. Anyone who has walked down the Red Mile after a Flames playoff win can tell you how amazing that experience is, even if you aren’t a die-hard hockey fan.
Sports make Calgary memorable for reasons other than the Stampede and oil. We have the potential to be known as one of the best cities in the international sporting community. When that potential is privately funded, it seems to be a no-brainer, as taxpayer money isn’t on the line. This new arena will help make Calgary the city we want to be known for — one with ambition, drive and competitive spirit. Even if it will look a bit like a cockroach.