12:40pm: King and the Flames held a press conference to address the offer. He said that the Flames will reveal their counter-proposal next week, and that they’re not going to hide anything any longer. King revealed that the two sides had not even met since July 31st, and that was when they “surrendered” that a deal would not happen. He reiterated that the Flames ownership group has never wavered in their goal of keeping professional sports in Calgary, and that they would “already be gone” if they were only going for a “money grab.”
11:12am: In the latest battle over who will pay for an NHL arena, the Calgary Flames front office announced this week that they were “no longer pursuing a new facility” and that the negotiations with the city over public funding were going nowhere. The Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi shot back at the Flames, saying that the city had always been negotiating in good faith but still things were left at something of an impasse.
Now, the Canadian Press is reporting that the city has offered to pay for one-third of the proposed $555MM building costs, though that still doesn’t seem good enough for the Flames. The report states that the team wants public funds to cover “closer to half” of the cost. The public war of words will likely continue, with both Flames President Ken King and Nenshi using the issue politically, heading into the civic elections next month.
It’s tough to see how this doesn’t end up with the Flames somehow getting their new building and remaining in Calgary, though NHL commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t mince words when speaking about how poorly the negotiations had gone:
The city is nowhere close to embracing [the proposal]. So there was no point in continuing. It’ll play out the way it’ll play out. In the short-term, no one should doubt the Flames or their ownership’s commitment to this community, but at some point I envision without a new building there will be consequences that everyone will have to deal with.
This public battle comes after a report that Seattle would be unveiling a plan for a new $600MM arena, though that announcement was put on hold due to new sexual assault allegations laid against Mayor Ed Murray. The announcement hasn’t yet been rescheduled, but the deal shouldn’t be in jeopardy even with the scandal. Seattle would be a potential relocation option for Calgary, though the league is obviously still quite a distance from a decision like that.
Calgary has been in the NHL since 1980, when the Atlanta Flames moved north. In 1983 the Saddledome, where the team still plays, opened its doors and just a few seasons later saw the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup victory. With a team poised to take another run at the playoffs, this arena news can only be a distraction in what should be a promising season.