Bettman to Calgary: Get new Flames arena for only $490m, act now, supplies limited!

Your request for at least $490 million in public money for a combined hockey arena/football stadium Frankenstein monster is going nowhere with the skeptical mayor. So who you gonna call? You got that right:

[NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman told [Calgary]’s business community at a chamber of commerce event Monday there should be more urgency to get the project underway, particularly from city council.

“I’m having trouble understanding why there hasn’t been further progress on CalgaryNEXT,” Bettman said. “No matter what anyone thinks of the proposed CalgaryNEXT project or the cost of the project, the cost is never going to be lower than it is today…”

The Scotiabank Saddledome, built in 1983, will be the oldest NHL arena when Canada celebrates its 150th birthday in 2017, he said.

Wow, is that really possible, that no other NHL stadium is more than 32 years old? Why, no, it’s not: Even once the new Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings arenas open this year and next respectively, there’ll still be the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden, born 1968. (And renovated a couple of times since then, but Bettman didn’t say “oldest unrenovated arena.”)

Anyway, this appears to be a somewhat new twist on the old stadium playbook, with Bettman arguing that Calgary residents shouldn’t look at the sticker price, but rather act now because this sale won’t last forever! Which isn’t a new twist in the marketing world, but hey, half of Bettman’s job consists of declaring these kinds of ultimatums, so give him credit for at least coming up with a new way to phrase it.

17 comments on “Bettman to Calgary: Get new Flames arena for only $490m, act now, supplies limited!

  1. Have you seen the Calgary mayor’s reply?

    “I don’t know why anyone would think this is surprising or news, this is the man’s job, this is what he does,” said Nenshi.

    “Perhaps in other cities that he has come to, the city councils have just written cheques based on back-of-the-napkin proposals without any consultation to the public or without any analysis, that’s not how we operate here.”

    “I know that Calgarians require very wealthy people from New York to come and tell us what we need to do in our community because they understand vibrancy better than we do,” he said.

    I’m thinking of moving to Calgary, just so I can vote for this guy.

  2. “No matter what anyone thinks of the proposed CalgaryNEXT project or the cost of the project, the cost is never going to be lower than it is today…”

    Truly one of the all-time great lines. Doesn’t matter whether you think it should be done, you need to do it now before the price increases.

  3. I’m not exactly clear from the article what the “sale” is. I mean when Macy’s has a “one day sale, 40% off everything in the store” I get that.

    “Buy now because, you know, inflation and stuff, next year the shirt might cost more, and have you looked at the Fed’s interest rates, you’re not going to get much return on your money if you leave it in the bank anyways” is the worst sale name ever.

  4. Calgary better get its act together or they could seriously lose their team. Las Vegas and Quebec City already have brand new arenas ready to go. If people think the NHL is bluffing, just look at what happened to Hartford, Quebec and Winnipeg. The only reason the Jets went back to Winnipeg is because they built the MTS Centre. It was never gonna happen with the old Winnipeg Arena.

  5. Jeff: Did you seriously just compare the 4th largest city in Canada with the 3rd largest city in Connecticut? Really? You know we’re talking about hockey here, right?

  6. @Steve D – What if Nenshi and Oakland’s Libby Schaff got together and parented the greatest public servant in history?

    Also, I’m waiting for Bettman to use the phrase, “You can’t afford NOT to buy this plan!”

  7. Hey, Nenshi and Anaheim’s Tom Tait could parent together just as well!

    (I have no idea about any of these pols’ romantic preferences, but since we’re dreaming…)

  8. Jeff,

    I think you left out the part where the current Jets previously were in a nice new arena–and still left because there weren’t many customers.

    I think the Calgary mayor is telling you that he really doesn’t care if they leave if keeping them means building a new arena with public money.

  9. The Flames are owned by some of the richest men in Western Canada. Murray Edwards alone could fund this project personally, yet they come to the tax payer and make vague threats about losing the team.

    Tell them to take a hike, if the owners care so little about the team and the money they make from games (The Flames are fairly profitable), then they can lose em. Make no mistake, while the team name is the Calgary Flames, they are owned by a private company, and their money does not flow freely to the city. If we pay for it, we should own it.

  10. Funny thing is when I read the original article I thought at least Bettman did not say there was a threat to move the team yet several folks reading this article jumped to that conclusion. Using the no threat threat of moving is to my the shadiest play in the play book. Funny thing was that Katz toured a facility in Seattle when he was trying to get more money out of the city with his little arena project. Neither Oiler fans or Seattle folks bought it and he basically had to apologize for staging such a staged PR event.

    Bettman is right, arenas don’t get cheaper so the owners better start paying up.

  11. What I’d like to know is how much is this project without the football stadium? Because regardless of what you think the Flames might do if they don’t get a new arena I can assuredly tell you the Calgary Stampeders are going nowhere.

    Even if I was mayor and keen on funding something for the Flames, this is where I start.

  12. Andrew is right, one of the few joys of the Hamilton stadium experience was seeing how Bob Young’s move threats were greeted with complete boredom.

  13. Bettman’s comment also included this line:
    “If your attitude is ‘this all has to be private,’ then it never gets done because it’s not an investment that’s cost-justified.”
    No shit.

  14. Maybe the Flames can just pull up stakes and become tenants in that nice new taxpayer funded palace up the road in Edmonton… as tenants…

    I wonder who Nenshi was talking about with the “other markets” comment….

    Kudos to Nenshi. There’s a reason about 75% of voters casting a ballot in the last Mayoral election voted for him. I don’t live in Calgary, but I do know that people there love him for the way he does things… and this is a perfect example of why. Plus, unlike Bettman, he’s really good at that social media thing…

    The fact that Bettman would come to town (at Ken King and Murray Edwards invitation, of course….) and make this statement at a time when tens of thousands of oil related jobs have disappeared in an economy like this is deeply offensive to the people of Alberta. Contrary to popular belief, Alberta’s economy does not run on oil alone. However, oil is still a very important resource to the province, accounting for perhaps 25% of all provincial revenues.

    Bettman should have come to town when oil was $140/bbl and oil companies were recklessly looking for ways to spend money, not with oil in the mid $30 range and a provincial deficit that is likely going to be in the $10-12Bn range this year (total AB provincial budget: ~$45Bn)

    Yeah, Bettman. Nice beard. This is exactly the time Albertans should choose to give a billion dollars to a handful of billionaires and their millionaire players….

  15. Mogulboy: We can debate whether Katz’ actually had to (or did) apologize to the people or not. But what is not in question is that Katz got his $480m no, $520m no, $608m no, $643m (and counting) publicly funded arena. The original $100m he ‘promised’ toward his OWN project is now going in to the commercial development (which he owns).

    In my view, even though the public and city did not react as he expected they would to his idiotic Seattle holiday, he got what he wanted out of the trip. So who’s the fool in that analogy? I’d argue it’s the city of Edmonton, not Katz.