Saddledome Flooding Begins To Ebb; Flames Eye NHL Start Despite Extensive Damage
Water inside the Scotiabank Saddledome by yesterday evening "was down a couple of feet," and that is a "significant development, but it is still a long way from allowing Flames officials to determine the extent of the damage," according to Scott Cruickshank of the CALGARY HERALD. The Flames’ recovery team "regroups" today. Flames President & CEO Ken King on Saturday said, "We’re going to be ready for the opening of the season" (CALGARY HERALD, 6/24). In Calgary, Eric Francis reported King "would not venture a guess as to how many millions of dollars in damages there were, nor would he speculate on when the building could start to be cleared or eventually be open for business again." King "gave a frank assessment of what he saw" in the Saddledome "shortly before providing disturbing pictures and video of the carnage." King said, "It's a mess. The tales of it being up to row eight or nine are absolutely true. ... It is a total loss on the event level. To the extent it is greater than that we do not know." Francis reported the "Zambonis, the video control room, archived footage of the team, most memorabilia, the dressing rooms, kitchens and the media lounge are all destroyed." King and Saddledome VP/Operations Libby Raines "debunked reports the Jumbotron itself was sitting on the arena floor when the water started pouring in Friday morning." Francis: "A frustrating lockout and a recovering economy previously helped delay the Flames plans to launch arena plans." However, the door is "now ajar for open discussion on a [C]$500 or $600 million project that will include requests for government to chip in." King: "We need to put the building back in service. In the event we started construction of a new building today that’s probably a two-and-a-half to three-year process and you couldn’t partially put this building back together waiting for that new building. It’s germane to that discussion" (CALGARY SUN, 6/23).
COMMON PROBLEM: King said that he has "spoken to" Predators GM David Poile, whose team "faced fallout from a flood during the spring" of '10. King said that he also "has been in touch" with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and added that the "topic of contingency scheduling was never discussed." King said of the Saddledome, "It’s a total loss. There was nothing saved. All the mechanical equipment -- including the equipment which drives our JumboTron equipment -- is, at this moment, under about 15 feet of water and not salvageable, I assume" (CALGARYHERALD.com, 6/22). The CP's Donna Spencer noted the facility has been "a part of the lifeblood of the city since it was built" in '83 for the arrival of the Flames and the '88 Winter Olympics. In addition to "serving as the home arena" of the Flames, WHL Hitmen and NLL Roughnecks, it is a "concert venue as well as exhibition space for the Calgary Stampede, which opens July 5." King "couldn’t begin to put a dollar figure on the loss." But he said, "We believe our insurance is full and intact and will cover us for this eventuality" (CP, 6/22). The CALGARY SUN's Francis noted the facility is "owned by the city but operated by the Flames as part of a lease agreement that ends" in '14 (CALGARYSUN.com, 6/21).