Calgary’s New Arena Gets People Thinking About An Entertainment District

May 4, 2023 3 Minute Read

Calgary skyline with Saddledome

In the wake of the announcement of a $1.2-billion deal for a new Calgary arena, to replace the Scotiabank Saddledome, there’s excitement and big questions around what will become of the properties around the new stadium.

Many hope the city can create something similar to what they’ve got up in Edmonton, with the ICE District that surrounds the Oilers’ home at Rogers Place, which has rapidly become a new centre of gravity for Calgary’s rival city.

CBRE’s Greg Kwong tells the Calgary Herald that there will be “huge demand” for restaurants, bars and retail in the area to service all the event-related traffic from the new arena.

“Not only do you have the 45 home games the Flames will be playing, you’ve got all the concerts and other events that will be happening, so there’s going to be a demand for retail, for sure,” he said.

The potential for what could be in Calgary is on full display in Edmonton, where the Oilers are into the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Crowds gather outside Rogers Place to cheer on the home team, packing the neighbouring bars, restaurants, casino and hotels of ICE District.

A similar successful sport-anchored redevelopment exists in Toronto, where Maple Leaf Square (Jurassic Park when the Raptors are in the post-season) was the first of the mixed-use entertainment districts to be developed around a new hockey arena. It was followed by Montreal (the Tour Des Canadiens project), and Winnipeg (True North Square).

It’s not likely that condos or apartment buildings will be part of the Calgary development plans, Kwong told the Herald, citing the noise and traffic of the surrounding area. But he didn’t rule it out, either.

“There’s a few different things that can happen, which is great,” he said. “And the event centre is a good thing and it’ll act as a catalyst to get things going there.”

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