Flames, Calgary to discuss how neither of them wants to pay for new arena

The Calgary Flames have responded to last week’s damning city report on the projected costs of their stadium-arena proposal, and it looks like both sides are going with “everybody smile and hope things will somehow work out so that everyone is happy.” Flames CEO Ken King said that he’s “thrilled” city officials want to meet to discuss possible alternate sites, while Mayor Naheed Nenshi made a classic hey-always-willing-to-talk statement:

“Calgarians have been pretty clear that they would like to see better facilities, but they’ve also been pretty clear that public money has to go for public benefit and the real issue there is to square this circle and see if we can put those two things together,” he said.

Of course, King also ruled out putting in any more of the team’s own money (“Our financial proposal stands for CalgaryNext”), and Nenshi said that bit about how public money can only go for public benefits, so this may be less a question of squaring the circle than of getting two non-intersecting Euler diagram circles to meet. Talking is always good, though! Maybe either King will find some more money in his other coat pocket, or they’ll figure out how to build an arena out of staff — if they’re just going to replace it 20 years later, it could sort of work.

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6 comments on “Flames, Calgary to discuss how neither of them wants to pay for new arena

  1. Looks like it’s time for Mr King to visit Seattle and “discuss” their facilities. Sure worked for Mr Katz in Edmonton.

  2. Don’t forget about Hamilton or Quebec City! They both have empty arenas financed by public money.

  3. That’s why cities should always have a clause that says “we’ll only build an arena if we are guaranteed a team”. Quebec City not only built an arena, but they also have owners with deep pockets willing to pay the $500 million expansion fee (actually submitted an expansion application, costing $10 million). The NHL have now basically told them to take a hike and will only give Vegas an expansion team. Talk about getting screwed.

  4. Instead of asking for a guarantee, Neil has suggested that cities should start buying the teams.

    What an arena? We want an equity position in the team.

  5. @ Dave:

    Say what you will about the NHL, but you can’t blame them for Quebec’s tenantless arena. The league was very clear from the start that a new arena wasn’t a guarantee of anything, and warned Markham and Quebec of that fact. Markham backed away and at the same time, Quebec drove forward. They’ll get a team if/when it’s truly convenient for the league, same as Winnipeg.

  6. Exactly right, Joe. The NHL has done other cities dirty, but Bettman was very clear with Quebec – saying “no-one should build facilities in anticipation of getting a team as none are available”.

    That’s not exactly telling them not to do it… but it’s about as close as someone in the business of creating the illusion of demand can get.

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