On Monday night, the city of Calgary held their mayoral elections and incumbent Naheed Nenshi was elected to a third term. For the next four years, Nenshi will continue to run the city after accumulating 51.4% of the vote against challenger Bill Smith. This outcome has an important impact on the future of the Calgary Flames, as the team and Nenshi have been in a battle of wills over a new arena funding negotiation.
The Flames threw their support behind Smith wholeheartedly, after negotiations fizzled earlier this month and CEO Ken King said the team was “no longer pursuing a new arena”. The negotiations were highly politicized, but now sit at a disturbing standstill. It seems unlikely that the Flames will go back to the table, hat in hand, to give in to the city’s proposal and as Eric Francis of Sportsnet writes they may not want to wait around either:
The chances of the Flames five-man ownership group, spearheaded by fierce negotiator Murray Edwards, would choose to keep the team in Calgary longer than four years without an arena deal in place are slim.
That is a chilling statement for Flames fans who will now continually look over their shoulder at the hungry Seattle, Houston and Quebec City markets. While obviously nothing is imminent in regards to relocation, there will be growing speculation as long as an arena deal is not made.