Calgary Flames President and CEO Ken King told media today that the organization is “no longer pursuing a new facility” in Calgary (audio link). King stated that the city and the organization have reached an impasse and that the organization sees no point in continuing talks. The Flames currently play out of the Scotiabank Saddledome which was built in 1983. It remains the second oldest arena in the NHL after Madison Square Garden, but the Garden received a recent billion dollar renovation.
The roadblock between the City and the Flames seems to center on public funding. King would not get into specifics, but he sighted differences in opinion on contributions as the main impediment. It is reasonable to assume—given the proclivity of public stadium financing—that the Flames want the city of Calgary to provide some sort of substantial funding and a specific location. Calgary’s mayor, however, has repeatedly indicated that he will do what’s best for the city.
The timing of this announcement is peculiar for two reasons. One, the current Calgary mayor just started his re-election campaign yesterday, and two, Seattle just announced an agreement to build a $600MM arena. The first means that the NHL may lobby for a mayoral candidate that supports a new arena. King even mentioned the mayor’s re-election campaign numerous times during the press conference. The second—the new Seattle arena—presents an implied and unspoken Plan B for any city who cannot agree on a new stadium.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman weighed in as well, stating that the city and team needs a new arena (audio link). He does state that the Flames are not immediately going to move, but that no new arena will have long-term consequences. Both King and Bettman stressed that they are not trying to pressure the city to build a new arena, but the conversational undertones seem to imply otherwise.