Calgary Flames want taxpayers to pay for new arena

Calgary Flames want taxpayers to pay for new arena

The debate in Calgary continues to heat up over talks of a new arena. The Scotiabank Saddledome, which is currently home to the NHL’s Calgary Flames, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks, is one of the oldest arenas in the NHL and has needed countless repairs over the years, especially since 2013’s flood that closed the arena for months. Reports of replacing the event center began in 2008 when Flames president Ken King estimated a new arena was “five to eight years away,” but nearly 10 years later, it obviously isn’t the case.

The drama began when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman voiced his opinion that the new arena for the Flames should be funded with taxpayer money, which was quickly shot down by Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. When Calgary NEXT was proposed – a multi-sport complex that would include both an arena and football stadium to replace the Saddledome and McMahon Stadium – the city council rejected it, preferring to keep the arena site adjacent to the Saddledome and out of western downtown.

A day after shooting down the Calgary NEXT project, the city proposed a “Plan B” site in Victoria Park, but again, the two parties could not agree on funding. The city offered to pay for a third of the cost (around $185 million), while Calgary Sport and Entertainment (CSEC, who own the teams) would cover the second third. The rest would be covered by ticket surcharges on events that took place at the new arena, but this deal was rejected by the CSEC. They felt this ultimately led to them paying for the whole arena, as the ticket surcharges belonged to the team, and the property taxes they would owe to the city would eventually cover the taxpayer’s contribution.

Now it appears the Flames president has run out of patience. “I’ve come to the conclusion sadly and I’m very disappointed that I don’t think we can make a deal that works for us,” he stated on September 12th. Talks of moving the team from Calgary have already begun to speculate, making many Flames fans uneasy over the location of their team in the next few years (the Seattle Flames among the most popular rumors). That being said, there will be a municipal election this fall in Calgary, and clearly, the new arena and possible moving of the team will likely be a hot topic.


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