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Albertans Divided on Calgary Event Centre Deal

Posted May 1st, 2023 in Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Calgary, Edmonton, Media Release, News by Marc Henry


Media Release




(Calgary) On the eve of a provincial election, Albertans are divided – in fact, slightly negative – on a deal for a new Event Centre complex in Calgary, according to the latest ThinkHQ Public Affairs provincial survey.


The deal, which involves a $300 Million contribution from the Government of Alberta, has quickly become a profile issue as the provincial campaign starts. Indeed, only 12% of Alberta voters say they have not heard anything about it, while almost two-thirds (64%) report being “definitely aware” of the issue.


At first blush, it’s not a particularly compelling campaign issue for Danielle Smith’s UCP, with 50% of those interviewed saying they disapprove of the deal (32% strongly), compared to 43% who are in favour (14% strongly), and 7% are unsure.



Province-wide it’s a divisive issue, one that tilts slightly negative. However, most political watchers agree the announcement, made just days before the official start of the election, is really geared toward wooing Calgary votes. If that’s the case, it’s not a particularly effective effort. In Calgary, sentiment toward the new agreement is flipped compared to the province-wide average – 50% approve (20% strongly) while slightly fewer (45%) disapprove (27% strongly), and another 5% are unsure.


In the rest of the province, sentiment is generally divided, except with respect to Edmonton. In the provincial capital region, fully 61% of those interviewed disapprove of the deal (44% strongly), compared to only 33% offering support.


Looking across demographic breaks:

  • Approval for the deal tends to increase modestly with age and income, and is lower among women and those with university education




Commenting on the results of the survey, ThinkHQ Public Affairs President Marc Henry notes:


“The results on this aren’t especially surprising. We’ve tracked public sentiment on every proposed Event Centre deal that’s come forward in the past decade, and they always seem to divide Calgarians in half. Not shocking. It’s also not shocking that Edmontonians don’t like the deal, given the historical rivalry between the two cities and the lack of provincial support for Rogers Place.


This is not the issue that is going to win a lot of new votes for the UCP in Calgary – in fact, it may cost them votes in the ridings surrounding Edmonton. That said, it is an issue that could cost the NDP the election if mishandled, i.e., if they threaten to stop the deal as Government.


For the NDP to win the election, they MUST capture the lion’s share of Calgary seats. And as the polls sit today, many of those constituencies will be determined by very thin margins – a couple of points either way could mean the difference between the winning and losing parties. Killing a deal popular with one-half of Calgarians is the kind of thing that could tip the balance in several of these ‘toss up’ ridings. For the NDP, that’s the difference between having a chance at forming Government and not.”


Click here to view the full release and methodology




Media Inquiries:

Marc Henry

President, ThinkHQ Public Affairs, Inc.