As rumored last month, the Calgary city council has gone ahead and formed a committee to reopen talks with the Flames owners on a new arena, a committee that will edge Mayor Naheed Nenshi out of a central role in negotiations. Nenshi, though, either thinks the rest of the council will hold a hard line or is just making a brave face of it, because he had this to say:
“I think hitting the reset button is a good idea, but the reset button has to be hit on both sides,” Nenshi said.
“Given that we were not the party that walked away I think it’s important everyone come back to the table and maybe with new faces around the table as well.”…
“It will be hard for the committee to convince me to put a lot more public money on the table,” Nenshi said Monday. “I think it will be hard for the committee to convince council to do that.
“I think it will be hard for the committee to convince Calgarians to do that.”
The concern here, ultimately, isn’t who does the negotiating on behalf of Calgary residents, it’s whether they give away the store. Nenshi still wields influence on the council, and obviously still has the bully pulpit to embarrass all concerned with facts, so it’s not like the Flames owners have carte blanche now. Still, this is something to keep an eye on, to be sure that it’s genuinely the Calgary council telling the team, “We’re willing to talk so long as you’re not asking us to give away the store,” and not “Okay, we pushed out the guy who understood economics, when do you want us to jump and how high?”