Nenshi re-elected as Calgary mayor, enraged Flames staffer tweets this is “worse than Trump”

Oh, hey, did I neglect to inform you all about the results of the Calgary mayoral election? Turns out Naheed Nenshi was re-elected by a 51-44% margin over challenger Bill Smith — either those polls showing Smith surging out to a double-digit lead were wrong and the ones showing Nenshi with a huge lead were more accurate, or all polling in the age of cell phones and political cynicism is crap, and you could have predicted Nenshi’s win just as well by throwing darts at a board.

Either way, this means that Canada’s member of the Gang of Four and 2014 winner of the World Mayor Prize — yes, that is apparently a thing —will be back at the negotiating table with the Flames over their arena demands for the foreseeable future, and the team’s communications director had something to say about that on Twitter (briefly, until he deleted it):

The Flames quickly backtracked and said the statement of the guy in charge of speaking to the media on behalf of their team shouldn’t be taken to be a statement on behalf of the team. Asked about the tweet on CBC yesterday, Nenshi replied, “I have no idea who this person this is, I’ve never met him, and boy, what an out-of-touch tweet to send.”

Clearly, if if they’re not all tweeting about it, Flames execs are steamed, especially after their arenaful of anti-Nenshi ads failed to bear fruit with voters. And according to National Post columnist Jen Gerson, the NHL was working behind the scenes as well to undermine Nenshi:

Amid a stalled negotiation for a new hockey rink, the NHL unabashedly attempted to interfere with Calgary’s election. Finding Nenshi uncowed by the might of our local hockey squad, league commissioner Gary Bettman even made strategic calls to select media insinuating that should the team relocate the mayor would be indifferent…

At the very least, Nenshi’s win seems like suitable comeuppance for Bettman. There are limits in this country to even hockey’s power.

Leaving aside the particulars of the Nenshi-Smith showdown, what terrible signal would a Smith victory have sent to politicians in other hockey cities? Play nice, pony up or pack out?

Now that Nenshi has won re-election, what now? Gerson concludes that “an emboldened Nenshi and dejected Flames ownership will re-open arena negotiations with all the grace and goodwill of screaming marmots,” which sounds about right. There will almost certainly be renewed threats of the Flames leaving town, though as we’ve covered here before, it’ll be tough for owners to find a city where they’ll make more money than they’re already raking in in Calgary. And Nenshi knows this, and knows that this gives him leverage, and is likely to stick to his guns in demanding that if the city puts up money for an arena, it get repaid from a cut of arena revenues. The Flames owners will continue to consider this a supreme insult. In other words: enraged mustelids. Ah, love.


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25 comments on “Nenshi re-elected as Calgary mayor, enraged Flames staffer tweets this is “worse than Trump”

  1. With the Arizona Legislature projecting at least a $100 million dollar shortfall, and that public/private partnership for a new arena that Andrew Barroway seeks, we may see a similar meltdown here from both him and the NHL.

  2. From the NHL it’s generally expected.

    What I’ve been shocked at is Sportsnet (the NHL’s Canadian broadcast partner) putting Eric Francis, who has made his pro-Flames position obvious, and even pulled the “I’m moving if he wins” card, as a neutral source on the issue.

    1. Was it in print or on air that he said something to the effect of”I’m moving if he wins” Because I’ve seen him a couple of times around town, and if the chance arises I would love to ask him in person why he hasn’t left.

      He’s probably the one person that I would encourage to back up that kind of talk.

    2. Francis is just a pitchman for the Flames. Pay no attention to his incoherent ramblings.

    3. He actually said today that the Flames are “not economically viable”. He is clueless and incompetent: Typical post media material…

  3. I need to start reading more of Jen Gerson’s work – “screaming marmots” is very appropriate and a great band name too.

  4. Another shining example of a mayor not re-elected because he/she stood up to the great stadium swindle game played by billionaire pro team owners.

    Oh…never mind

  5. If Nenshi had campaigned on “Bettman if for the other guy,” he would have received 100% of the vote.

  6. There is only one real Gang Of Four, and they love a man in uniform.

    1. If we can get Andy Gill elected mayor of Oakland, this Gang of Four will have just as many original members as that one.

      1. Maybe if Calgary still had “The Big Four” (they helped fund the first Calgary Stampede in 1912) as Flames owners, your moniker would be Gang of Three (time value of money aside). I’ve stocked up on popcorn. Election night tweeting provided a good start to the next episode.

  7. This was the best news I read, heard, or saw today, a day full of extremely crummy news. Thank you. I’m going to bed now.

  8. I’m still on the KC bandwagon for the new Flames city, but Seattle might have a shot. Milwaukee has the new arena going up, but the NHL is all about ownership, and I’m not sure that Milwaukee has a strong owner looking to buy and move the Flames.

    1. There’s no financial incentive for any owner to go to KC. AEG is not going to give up any of its revenue for that arena.

      In Milwaukee, there’s not enough in the pot once the Bucks get their share.

      Seattle is a possibility, but financially, it still makes more sense for Flames to put more money into new Calgary arena.

      1. What are the complaints about the Saddledome again, beyond “not shiny enough”? It’s hard for me to believe that a new arena in Calgary would bring in enough added revenue to be worth the cost — could they get most of what they want with a renovation at a fraction of the cost?

        If not, the fallback plan may have to be “Stay put and keep on making the same profits as always.”

        1. Anywhere else they move they will generate less revenue, new building or not.

          The main increases in revenue from the new Edmonton arena seem to be coming from the internal bars/restaurants (which is displaced business from elsewhere of course) and 15-20% hikes in concession prices, as well as massive ticket price increases.

          Those changes can be effected with a renovation, yes. Or you could just put the price of the thin plastic cups of warm weak beer they serve up at the old building too. The price of a beer at Northlands quadrupled over about 15 years… people still paid.

          What’s that Forrest Gump line?

        2. Neil,

          You hit the nail on the head. If the Flames pay for the arena themselves, the debt service on the construction bonds will wipe out any revenue gains. If they stay in the Saddledome, the footprint of the arena is too small to boost revenues via repurposed seating, expanded team stores and upgraded concessions. They need a new arena and they need the public to pay half.

          LA Steve,

          You are out of date. AEG has a competitor now, called Oak View Group (OVG). AEG will give the Flames a sweetheart lease in KC just to prevent OVG from getting them to Seattle, if it comes to that. If AEG stonewalls on the lease, other cities will choose OVG b/c AEG will have a rep for not being able to get a team.

          1. Ben,

            I always love your certitude. They need “half” the cost paid by the public. Not 60% or 80% or 100%.

            The other options besides Seattle are preposterous as better markets. KC and Milwaukee (as you know) are small, largely declining cities with small pockets of wealth and corporate presence. They are also saturated with other sports. KC is a great place to live, but it is not a 3 sports town. Milwaukee is not a 4 sports town (not even including college sports in either).

            It takes more than a new building to create a platform for long-term higher revenues. You need customers that are ready to pay with jobs that can afford that kind of outlay.

    2. I wonder if there is much of a shot in Seattle for the Flames if the OVG arena renovations go ahead.

      Tim Leiweke and OVG seem to have potential expansion team owners already in place. Couple of heavy hitters in Jerry Bruckheimer and Dave Bonderman. The Seattle talk in the interview starts around the 7:00 minute mark

    3. It’s time for them to move back to Atlanta. The Thrashers had a new building and well capitalized ownership, but fans never warmed to the replacement team. They want the Flames back desperately.

      For the NHL, third time a charm in Ga. And once teams are added in Tucson, Savannah, Jacksonville the NHL will be bigly tremendous and unprecedented.

  9. Mustelids — nice, even if I had to look it up first. So many possibilities with a team named the Flames!

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