Part of the roof of the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary collapsed. Literally.
Documents obtained by CBC News through Alberta’s freedom of information legislation show pieces of concrete detached from the roof’s ring beam while other crumbling pieces were removed to prevent them from falling.
Engineering firm Entuitive recommended that there be inspections every spring and fall to monitor any deterioration in concrete conditions caused by annual freeze-thaw cycles.
In April 2021, the company sent a letter to the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) – which operates the public building – advising that sections of loose concrete had been removed.
But he also said “the condition of the concrete around the ring beam is deteriorating at an accelerating rate.”
Earlier this year, a net was installed around the ring beam to catch any pieces of concrete that “looked like they were ready to fall imminently”.
Not a structural problem
Images from a 2018 report show what happens when concrete breaks loose and falls from the roof beam.
Chunks of concrete fell onto a roof structure below that sits above the western steps of the Saddledome. The heavy material punched a jagged hole in the structure.
Engineering reports note that the concrete problems on the ring beam are superficial in nature and do not present a structural problem for the roof itself.
The City of Calgary declined interview requests on the subject.
However, a senior official familiar with the reports and the Saddledome told CBC News there were no concerns about the stability of the roof or public safety.
The official said a full remediation plan to stabilize the concrete is expected in the coming months and a plan to fix the issue will be implemented.
As the work plan has not yet been presented, he said it was unclear how long the work would take to complete or how much it might cost.
Council needs information
The chairman of the city council’s event center committee, the councillor. Sonya Sharp said she had not seen the engineering reports.
She said the council had received high-level information about the state of the building, but nothing detailed.
“I’m not an engineer and I will certainly admit it, but it’s very important for the council to understand from the administration exactly how secure and safe the building is for the general public,” Sharp said.
She plans to ask senior administration officials to reveal reports to council members and the public about the state of the Saddledome.
His committee is tasked with finding a way to build a new events center for Calgary that would replace the Saddledome, which opened in 1983.
The city’s general manager of infrastructure services, Michael Thompson, said the city is monitoring the situation and conducting semi-annual inspections.
“The building is currently safe and structurally sound, so we are continuing to assess and review if further requirements are needed,” he said.
“Buildings of this age require maintenance, just like any other building or facility we have.”
The NHL’s Calgary Flames have a lease with the city to operate the building until 2033.
The team’s owning group, the CSEC, is responsible for paying for the upkeep of the building, although responsibility for any major repairs to the Saddledome rests with the City of Calgary.
The City in search of a new agreement
A deal between the city and the owners of the Flames on a new building that was expected to cost more than $600 million fell apart last December when CSEC pulled out of the deal, citing increased costs.
On Wednesday, the city said it was making progress in talks with the owners of the Calgary Flames on a deal.
Sharp said there was a confidential briefing for the committee. Although no details have been released, she says the talks are progressing.
“The city, through the third party, is talking to the CSEC, and we all have to remain very optimistic that this will continue.”
In May of this year, the city hired three commercial real estate officials to approach CSEC about the possibility of restarting talks on a new arena.
No recommendation has yet been made on a potential way forward, but the City Council has given its backing to the idea of building a new arena downtown that would replace the Saddledome.