Condition of weathering concrete on Saddledome roof being evaluated: city

WATCH: The City of Calgary says it is regularly inspecting the roof of the Saddledome after receiving reports of deterioration. As Adam MacVicar reports, the revelations come on the same day as a committee meeting on the building's replacement.

Calgary officials are evaluating the condition of the concrete on the city’s Scotiabank Saddledome roof amid reports of deterioration.

However, city officials said the building is “safe and structurally sound” despite the aging concrete.

“The Saddledome is approaching 40 years in age and concrete weathers as it starts to get old,” the city’s infrastructure general manager Michael Thompson told reporters Wednesday. “We’re seeing that on the Saddledome, similar to any of our other concrete buildings and bridges that we have around the city.”

According to Thompson, the city continues to inspect the condition of the concrete on the roof on an “ongoing basis” and would undertake repairs if they’re deemed necessary.

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As for the costs to make repairs to the Saddledome, Thompson said the city has an agreement with the Saddledome Foundation, but also has budgets allocated for maintenance on city funded facilities.

A price tag for the potential repairs has not yet been disclosed.

Wired netting now sits around the outer ring of the roof of the Saddledome.

An engineering report into the concrete on the Saddledome for Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), originally published by CBC News, stated the concrete ring beam around the roof was deteriorating at an accelerated rate.

“We’ll continue to do evaluations of this building, just like all our other facilities,” Thompson said.

CSEC did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.

It comes as the city’s Event Centre Committee met for an update on progress of restarting talks with the Calgary Flames on building a replacement for the Saddledome.

Ward 1 Coun. and committee chair, Sonya Sharp, said there is reason for Calgarians to be optimistic about the project.

“The city, through the third party, is talking to CSEC and we should all remain very optimistic that’s going to continue,” Sharp told reporters following the meeting.

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The third-party group, dubbed the Event Centre Visioning Group (ECVG), is made up of three Calgary businessmen: John Fisher; CBRE executive vice-president; Guy Huntingford, NAIOP Calgary strategic director; and Phil Swift, Ayrshire Group executive chair.

Sharp said there isn’t a set timeline in place at the moment for the project to get back on track, but added city administration is working at “light-speed” on the file.

The majority of Wednesday’s meeting was spent behind closed doors, which Sharp said is necessary to build back relationships.

“It looks like we’re having conversations behind the scenes, and that’s not good,” Sharp said. “When the time is right to let Calgarians know what’s going on, we will.”

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Sharp wouldn’t comment on whether the latest news about the condition of the concrete on the roof of the Saddledome adds any more urgency to revamp the Event Centre project but said she would inquire about the details with administration.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek shared her optimism that a new deal could be reached with Flames ownership.

“I have always remained optimistic on the fact that we could enter into a new negotiation and figure out how we get an event centre done as part of a larger district,” Gondek told reporters Wednesday. “I’m very pleased with what’s been happening in terms of progress and we shall see what comes next.”

A deal was struck between the City of Calgary and CSEC to split the costs to build a $550 million new event centre back in 2019.

That deal was restructured in July 2021 as costs increased, with Calgary Municipal Land Corporation removed as project management and CSEC agreeing to take on any cost overruns.

However, CSEC announced costs had ballooned to around $640 million by December 2021.

The agreement came to an end in December, after Flames ownership informed the city it would be pulling out due to more than $16 million in additional costs because of several climate resiliency and infrastructure conditions attached to the development permit by the Calgary Planning Commission.

The city’s Event Centre Committee was created earlier this year after council voted unanimously to find a third party to gauge CSEC’s interest in re-entering talks with the city to build the Saddledome’s replacement.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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