Flames exec after nine straight years of sellouts: This arena blows, we need a new one

The last time we heard anything about the Calgary Flames‘ arena demands was nearly two years ago, when team execs said they were watching the Edmonton Oilers‘ plans closely; before that, it was way back in 2009 when team CEO Ken King said he hoped to start construction on a new building “as soon as we can.”

Cue Flames president for hockey operations Brian Burke, who yesterday let loose with both barrels at the 31-year-old Calgary Saddledome, calling it “a 1988 building” and “embarrassing”:

“An update on our new home? You know what? We need a new building. Obviously, everyone knows that,” said Burke, president of hockey operations for the Flames, responding to a question from the audience. “We have the finest state-of-the-art 1988 building in the (National Hockey League).”

This is, of course, a time-honored tradition in sports, slagging your current home in an attempt to shame elected officials into helping you build a new one. Of course, given that nothing is imminent on that front — even King admitted back in January that “It’s our hope to announce something, I guess when we’re ready, and we’re not there yet” — you’d think he’d want to worry about driving fans away by telling them their home arena is a dump, but given that the Flames have sold out every game for the last nine years, maybe not. Though it does make you wonder why they “need a new building,” except as a way to make more revenue off of luxury suites and the like, which would more honestly be stated as “We want more money.”

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14 comments on “Flames exec after nine straight years of sellouts: This arena blows, we need a new one

  1. Here we go again using taxpayers dollars for millionaire and multimillionaire players and owners to get richer. It never stops.

  2. I guess it’s too much to hope that a reporter would respond to Burke’s comment by asking: “Then why don’t you build one?”

  3. Some interesting comments to that Calgary Herald article: “Don’t be mad when the Flames leave then.” “Think how many jobs they create”

    Looks like the Flames’ PR machine doesn’t have much work to do.

  4. To be fair I’m pretty sure the Saddledome has more than enough luxury boxes. What it needs is team office space, wider concourses, sideline clubs and more modern back house stuff (locker rooms, press box, etc).

    And don’t forget, Neil, we still have bet as to whether the province will give the Flames and Oilers at least $50M.

  5. Something interesting that you may want to look into is how fast food and fast casual chains demand their franchisees to build new restaurants at their expense. Guess who profits the most from something like that? It’s kind of ridiculous.

  6. Roger: I’m not sure what you’re talking about here as I don’t see a link but Subway has inspectors that come around every so often to grade their franchisees places. Claims that Subway does this to toss out franchisees from very profitable locations abound.

    I believe they also require remodeling every so often at the expanse of the franchisee. So for what you’re claiming, it’s not a stretch to imagine this.
    Just look at all the minimum wage jobs Subway creates. I think our legislators need to get right on it and send the parent company money right now.

  7. It’s only fitting that they have a state of the art 1988 era building, because they have a state of the art dinosaur in Burke as well.

    Is president for hockey operations somehow different than president of hockey operations? Do they make enough money by fleecing the punters at their ‘antiquated’ arena (which was significantly renovated after last year’s floods) to pay one of those too?

  8. Just some background here: Calgary’s mayor is Naheed Nenshi, who has made his career fighting developer subsidies. Teaming up with the generally market-friendly culture around the city, this will be a tough one for the Flames.


  9. Ty: I hope you are right. The seven Canadian based NHL teams are all in the top half of the league in terms of net revenue, most of them are in the top ten. They have rabid fan bases that will literally pay anything to watch their product. Even if they were able to extract subsidies from other cities, their bottom line would get significantly worse if they left their present hosts.

    Doesn’t sound like a reason for taxpayer subsidy to me…

  10. It’s too funny with the NHL, here you have the NHL Stanley Cup finals with NBC and the NHL peeing in their their proverbial pants that no NHL team from Canada is in the finals, including the Leafs which I believe are worth the most of any franchise in the NHL. That’s a weird one for ya but hey, it’s now the US of A NHL ie. you can have a franchise worth the most but we still don’t want you in our NHL finals thank you! Why, because even the Leafs don’t add more viewers to NBC which controls the NHL albeit most Canadians are too daft to realize that, and BTW, I live in Canada and was born and raised here and played hockey most of my life. It’s a great game, sad we sold it out to American television, our Stanley Cup. Sad.

  11. “…but we still don’t want you in our NHL finals thank you!”

    I may be wrong, but I don’t thinking ‘wanting you’ has much to do with getting to the final round of the playoffs.

  12. Not wrong at all Keith.

    Mike: I’m not sure where the notion that the NHL is “peeing it’s pants” over the absence of a Canadian team in the finals comes from? Can you expand on that?

    The NHL doesn’t seem worried. Perhaps some/many Canadians are offended or disappointed, but that’s the way the ball (or puck) bounces. Arguably, with Montreal taking the Rangers to seven games in the semi finals, this is a banner year for Canadian hockey fans… given that several times in recent years no team from north of the border has made it out of the first or second round.

    It looks to me like the NHL is happy to have two of it’s larger markets in the finals (pretty much the two largest, actually). They certainly aren’t complaining anyway…

  13. They would have been plenty happy with Montreal in the finals…would vastly increase viewership of the final in Quebec, a moderate increase in the rest of Canada, and would get a lot of ex-pat Canadians (who do a pretty good job of filling half the rink when the Habs are in many markets) watching.

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