Flames President & CEO Ken King Says Team Will No Longer Pursue New Arena In Calgary
Flames President & CEO Ken King yesterday said that the team is "no longer going to pursue a new arena in Calgary," according to a front-page piece by Schwartz & Blackwell of the CALGARY HERALD. King, appearing alongside NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, said that it "became clear the city has no genuine interest in helping build a new arena for the NHL team." The new comes with "less than six weeks until the municipal election, where Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is seeking a third term." Nenshi has "clashed with King about a new arena on multiple occasions." Nenshi said that he was "not aware" of Calgary Sports & Entertainment's new position. On Monday, Nenshi "pushed a plan for creating a cultural and entertainment district in East Village and Victoria Park." He said that it would "ideally include a Flames arena." Yesterday, King said that their meetings with the city about Victoria Park "have not been productive." A key point of contention between the Flames and city officials is "how much, if any, public money should go towards the construction of a new arena." Nenshi: "People have to come to terms with making sure that as I’ve said from the very beginning, public dollars have to have public benefits." King said the owners had "agreed to put up a substantial financial commitment" for the Victoria Park arena. The specifics of "how much the city would be asked to pay for the Victoria Park arena, and how much the Flames’ owners would cover, has not been made public." King said that the team "is not shopping around for a city that would be more willing to help pay for an arena." That is a "key difference from back in April, when King suggested the team would move if they didn’t get an arena" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/13).
THE PRICE IS NOT RIGHT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Maki & Tait cite a source as saying that Calgary "offered to pay for one-third of the arena, in equal installments over a number of years." The money would "have to be paid back." The source said that CS&E, according to this proposal, would "cover another third of the total cost and surcharge on tickets would pay for the remaining third." The source added that the Flames organization "rejected the offer." The CalgaryNext plan was "deemed too intensive -- three facilities in too small a space -- and too expensive by city council." One source described the "mood of the current owners as 'frustrated' and open to selling their interest in the team" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13). Flames C Matt Stajan said, "The hope for the players and being part of the city, you want a new rink and what Edmonton has. It's a little bit of a shock, and it's disappointing, but hopefully, we'll end up getting what we all want" (CALGARY SUN, 9/13).
IS IT TOO LATE? In Calgary, Eric Francis writes CS&E is "done pretending the City of Calgary and its current mayor are interested in serious negotiations to build a new arena in town." The desire remains, but the "patience to deal with a city council too scared to do the right thing by taking meaningful strides towards a much-needed investment in crucial infrastructure is over." The Flames' approach "needed to change as their best offer," which included more than $200M from the Flames owners, "didn't seem to whet the appetite of the city at all." Bettman and the Flames "weren't interested in discussing the obvious possibility of relocating to Quebec City or Seattle." Francis: "The threat is obvious." At the very least, the Flames' "new stance will help them determine one way or another whether there is any use in prolonging dreams of staying in Calgary or simply moving on" (CALGARY SUN, 9/13).