The team of three business executives named by the City of Calgary to come up with a plan to build a new event centre reports its work is "progressing well."
A city council committee on Monday heard that the group has named itself the Event Centre Visioning Group (ECVG).
The third party group includes three Calgary real estate executives:
John Fisher, an executive vice president with CBRE.
Guy Huntingford, director of strategic initiatives with NAIOP Calgary.
Phil Swift, executive chairman with Ayrshire Group.
The group has been meeting with officials from the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), the private company that owns the NHL's Calgary Flames.
However, the chair of council's event centre committee, Coun. Sonya Sharp, told reporters that while the two sides are talking, negotiations on a new arena are not taking place.
"We are not negotiating and what's important is there's lots of information to digest on every level and we'll just say: as we go through these next couple of months, we're hoping for an even bigger update for September," said Sharp.
She said that the city's administration is pushing the process forward and the third party's job is to rebuild trust with the Flames ownership group.
Council wants arena
An earlier agreement between the city and CSEC on a new area was terminated after the team walked away from the agreement in December due to rising costs.
Last January, city council renewed its support for a new downtown arena to replace the Saddledome which opened in 1983.
While the city's negotiators explore whether CSEC wants to resume negotiations, the ECVG will also explore new funding options for an arena.
The city's general manager of planning and development, Stuart Dalgleish, said that involves looking at other recent arena projects in North America.
"Looking at different financial models and structures that have been used and really just making sure that that proposed path forward is informed by the best information that it possibly could be," said Dalgleish.
Millions already spent
There are still no concrete details on how much money the City of Calgary and CSEC spent on the failed arena agreement.
Earlier this year, it was estimated both sides spent approximately $12 million each on preparations for construction.
Dalgleish said the city is close to knowing how much it spent but there's a bit more work to do.
"It would be brought forward – at the latest – at November budget time with council. If we can find a time and place earlier to bring it, we'll be bringing it then," he said.
The city's negotiators will continue their work through the summer. However, the next meeting of the event centre council committee will not happen until mid-September.