I led a group of eight Councillors that commissioned Mainstreet Research to do a random public survey to gauge public support on the new arena debate. The survey randomly sampled 5,061 Calgarians from April 24-26.
The purpose of the survey was not to ask a philosophical question on whether or not public funds should be used for a new arena. Instead we wanted to ask ‘under what circumstances could Calgarians support a public investment in a new arena?’
You can view a full copy of the report here.
Some of the highlights from the report:
- 50% believe that we do need a new arena
- 32% do not believe we need a new arena
- 71% believe that the Saddledome either meets some of our needs or none of our needs at all
- 60% would support construction of a new arena if we used a mechanism that did not contribute to an increase of their taxes (offering land, using savings, etc.)
- 64% either have a “very” (34%) or “somewhat” (34%) favorable view of the Calgary Flames as an organization
In the survey we outlined a number of hypothetical mechanisms for how The City could support the construction of a new arena. The more specific the mechanism was the more likely it was to have support. There are aspects of this survey that paint a clear picture of public opinion but there are also aspects that show there is a great deal of uncertainty among Calgarians.
Calgarians do see the Flames as an integral component of our city. Calgarians do want to see world-class facilities, but they want to know their public funds are being used in a responsible manner. This survey gives us a useful baseline of how the public feels about a new arena in the absence of a detailed proposal. We see that this is not a simple yes or no question; there are way more factors that must still be considered. There are risks with giving public funds, but there are also risks with doing nothing. We need to give Calgarians the best information possible and insist that there are clear and measurable gains by having public funds support an arena project.