‘They actually have the chops’: The third get together at Calgary's area negotiating desk

The Metropolis of Calgary has employed CAA ICON as its negotiator in talks with the Flames group on constructing an occasion centre

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A journalist who specializes within the politics of sports activities venues says the town’s determination to rent CAA ICON as a part of its negotiations with Calgary Flames possession could possibly be a very good transfer, if the town duties them with asking for the precise issues on the desk.

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The Metropolis of Calgary introduced Wednesday it has formally restarted talks with Calgary Sports activities and Leisure Firm on constructing an occasion centre within the metropolis. It additionally introduced it had employed CAA ICON to do the negotiating.

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The earlier event-centre deal collapsed in late 2021 after the house owners walked away, partially as a result of escalating prices.

Michael Thompson, normal supervisor of infrastructure providers for the town, mentioned CAA ICON has been retained as a “deal construction adviser.”

Neil deMause is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist and co-author of the e-book Subject of Schemes: How the Nice Stadium Swindle Turns Public Cash into Non-public Revenue. He additionally maintains a web site that experiences on ongoing area and stadium politics throughout North America.

deMause mentioned CAA ICON is well-known within the sports activities enterprise world, most just lately for finishing an financial affect examine for the Buffalo Payments’ proposed new stadium.

“They actually have the chops if Calgary needs them to go in and play hardball and say, ‘Okay, discover these the explanation why we shouldn’t must put up a complete lot of cash for an area, and why we must always kick this again over to the Flames’ house owners,’” he mentioned.

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He mentioned it totally relies on the mandate they’re handed.

“Are they tasked with discovering a technique to maintain the prices to an inexpensive degree, or are they tasked with looking for a technique to get a deal finished? As a result of these are two very completely different targets,” mentioned deMause.

On its web site, CAA ICON payments itself as “the industry-leading house owners consultant and strategic administration consulting agency for public/personal sports activities and leisure facility house owners and operations, skilled franchises, and leagues.”

They supply providers together with challenge administration, strategic advisory and feasibility and planning.

ICON was on the desk for the Edmonton Oilers’ house owners Katz Group as they negotiated with that metropolis on what would turn out to be Rogers Place area and the Edmonton ICE District.

A view of Rogers Place in Edmonton during the playoffs on May 21, 2021.
A view of Rogers Place in Edmonton in the course of the playoffs on Could 21, 2021. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Calgary beforehand labored with CAA ICON on the Calgary Conference Centre, the place the agency supplied recommendation on meals contracts.

ICON is underneath the umbrella of CAA — Inventive Artists Company — which is taken into account one of many huge 4 expertise companies primarily based in Los Angeles. Its portfolio of music stars consists of names corresponding to Ariana Grande, Diana Ross and Eric Clapton. The agency additionally represents many comedians and A-list film stars.

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CAA additionally has a sports activities arm representing gamers in all main league sports activities, together with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Seth Curry.

Whereas CAA ICON payments itself as working for crew house owners, deMause mentioned that’s as a result of groups are usually the events which have extra money to spend on consultants. He doesn’t see why they’ll’t go to bat for the town in these talks.

deMause mentioned Calgary might not be in the very best place going into the talks after the house owners beforehand walked away. He mentioned it feels a bit like dangerous parenting abilities on the a part of the town.

“It’s like when your youngster is instantly saying, ‘No! I want extra!’ and also you return and say, ‘Okay, how far more?’ as a substitute of explaining typically it’s going to be sure, and typically it’s going to be no.”

Nevertheless, he additionally believes the town is best off having a educated marketing consultant on the desk. deMause mentioned cities are usually “horrible negotiators” in the case of sports activities offers as a result of their specialists are usually not as educated in regards to the sports activities leisure {industry}.

His recommendation to Calgary could be to search for a share of the income streams. He mentioned simply on the lookout for obscure guarantees of financial affect or tax raise isn’t sufficient.

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He mentioned the gold customary in good offers for taxpayers was the now-demolished Minneapolis Metrodome, which was constructed with taxpayer {dollars} within the Eighties and paid off primarily by means of a beneficiant share of the concession stands proceeds.

A 2003 article within the Wall Road Journal mentioned the Minnesot
a Vikings house owners bemoaned their 10 per cent share of $5 million price of concession gross sales in 2002, arguing it was the worst deal in that league. The remainder of the cash went to the Metropolitan Sports activities Services Fee, which owned and operated the dome on behalf of the general public.

“You must actually go in with chilly eyes and have a look at that stuff and say, ‘Okay, what are we truly getting out of this that we might not get out of it in any other case?” mentioned deMause.

Twitter: @brodie_thomas

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