Plans for Calgary’s first multi-sport fieldhouse are starting to take shape, after the city committee charged with spearheading the long-awaited project endorsed a preliminary mix of amenities for the facility.
The multi-sport fieldhouse committee on Monday endorsed a plan to split the building — planned as the centrepiece for the redevelopment of Foothills Athletic Park — into three distinct athletic use areas: track and field, gymnasia and a turf field.
Coun. Jasmine Mian, the chair of the committee, said that would offer a wealth of flexibility for the facility in terms of hosting events, with each section designed to host several different sports.
“We never want to be in a position where we have to shut down one amenity to use another,” said Mian. “And so the way that the fieldhouse is designed is that you can have your soccer players playing soccer at the same time that you’re having a major basketball game at the same time you’re having a track event. That, for us, from an operating perspective is important, but it’s also great for Calgarians because there are lots of their needs being met at the same time.”
The mix is set to be refined through ongoing engagement over the next couple of months.
Facility isn’t tied to the success of city’s bid for 2030 Commonwealth Games
The city estimates the total economic benefit of a fieldhouse would be $20 million to $50 million annually, based on the estimated tourist draw of competitions and costs to event organizers.
“This will be a huge advantage for us to continue to grow the portfolio and drive the visitor economy for Calgary,” said Carson Ackroyd, the senior vice-president of sales for Tourism Calgary. “That’s a big, big part of our mix in the tourism perspective is these events that can drive people to come here.”
It’s also a large component of Alberta’s 2030 Commonwealth Games bid — though the facility isn’t tied to the success of that endeavour, said staff.
“Regardless of the success of that bid, this is an amenity that Calgarians require for everyday practice and play and ongoing competition,” said Heather Johnson, the city’s director of recreation. “It’s both an excellent part of a potential bid and a necessary facility to stand on its own.”
Cost has risen since four years ago
The cost of the project is still unknown. In 2019, the city pegged the eventual cost of a new fieldhouse at $300 million, but that has likely risen over the past four years. The fieldhouse committee is slated to receive a confidential cost estimate at its next meeting in June, but it’s unclear when that figure will be revealed publicly.
“That’s something we have to wait and see,” said Mian. “We’ve seen cost escalations across the board on a lot of our projects. I would have loved to build this 20 years ago, but the next best time is right now.”
The final amenity review is also slated to take place at that June meeting. From there, a timeline presented to the committee shows design planning through the end of 2024, and construction — currently unfunded — could begin by early 2025.
While the city has earmarked $109 million for the project, it’s currently in talks with the provincial and federal governments for funding to support construction.
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