Calgary Mayor Wants To Continue Negotiating Flames Arena Deal Despite Team's Stance
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi yesterday said that the city "remains at the negotiating table for a new NHL arena even though the Flames have declared they’ve pulled out of talks," according to Donna Spencer of the CP. Nenshi: "We worked very hard to come up with a deal that makes sense in this economy without impacting people’s taxes." Councillors yesterday voted to "allow Nenshi to release financial details" on a city-backed Victoria Park entertainment district option, which the mayor "said he would do soon." It was reported yesterday that the city "offered to pay a third of the cost, but that money had to be paid back." Nenshi said, "I can tell you that what has been reported -- the one-third, one-third, one-third deal -- as the basis, but there’s a lot more to it than that. I can tell you the city has a very fair offer on the table. One I think many Calgarians, most Calgarians will see as eminently reasonable." Nenshi said the proposed team-backed CalgaryNext project is one "most Calgarians will see as eminently unreasonable." Nenshi has at times "downplayed the economic benefit of a new arena, which created tension between the NHL team and the mayor" (CP, 9/13). In Calgary, Shawn Logan in a front-page piece reports both proposals "call for the Flames and the city to each shoulder about one-third of the price tag," which is currently about $550M, with a "ticket surcharge covering the remainder." Sources said that the "sticking point between the city and the ownership group seems to be around cost recovery for taxpayers." Nenshi "would not say" when the city would be making the proposals public. However, he said that the city has "always been ready to find a middle ground both sides could live with." But Councillor Andre Chabot said that making the documents public will "only create a further divide between the two sides." Chabot: "It may actually hurt future negotiations" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/14).
PLAYING THE BLAME GAME: In Calgary, Rick Bell writes Nenshi is "to blame for talks on a new NHL arena going sideways," as a deal with the Flames "could have been done." Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart said that former Mayor Dave Bronconnier "should be brought in to broker a deal between the Flames owners and the city." She added that Nenshi "never really backed a new arena." Colley-Urquhart: "There’s no evidence the mayor ever felt a new facility was needed. ... It’s such an affront to the owners of the Flames and what they’ve contributed to this city. It’s really embarrassing" (CALGARY SUN, 9/14). Also in Calgary, Eric Francis writes "something good came out" of the Flames' "aggressive declaration that they’ve stopped their pursuit of a new arena." The cause was forwarded by way of a "hastily-called vote" by city council yesterday to "release details of the team owners’ last offer and the city’s most recent counter-proposal." Francis: "Progress" (CALGARY HERALD, 9/14). The CALGARY HERALD's Don Braid writes, "The thought that an arena project for Calgary just died is plain ridiculous." Owners "haven't really walked away." In a city where polls show a big majority "favours a new arena, nobody wants it more" than Calgary Sports & Entertainment (CALGARY HERALD, 9/14).
WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET? THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ryan Kennedy wrote under the header, "Flames Billionaire Owner Can Build His Own Arena." The "posturing coming out of Calgary lately is beyond absurd." If Flames President & CEO Ken King, co-Owner and Chair Murray Edwards and CS&E "truly care about the city of Calgary, they’ll use ownership’s money to build a new facility." That is what the Maple Leafs did, that is what the Canadiens did and, more recently, that is what the Golden Knights did. The Red Wings and Oilers "received public funding for their latest arenas" but fact is, the Flames "can afford to build a new arena with their own money" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/13).