The president of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation — which oversees the Calgary Flames, Stampeders, Hitmen and Roughnecks — says the group is dropping its plan for a new arena.
Ken King says the group is no longer in talks with the city after an owners meeting today that included NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“The owners conveyed to me their frustration,” said Bettman, adding the owners feel over time it will affect the ability of the franchise to be competitive, but they will hang on as long as they can.
“This arena can’t compete, for example, with Edmonton any longer, because they don’t have the resources or the building. I think there were 34 dates of concerts that the new Edmonton arena got that didn’t come down here,” he said.
King said negotiations with the city have been unsuccessful, with the last meeting at the end of July.
“They’ve been spectacularly unproductive meetings,” said King. “It’s unfortunate because I really thought we would have something that works.”
King won’t say what this means for the future of the team.
“We will operate as long as we can and work as hard as we can to make it work,” but Calgary Sports and Entertainment won’t be putting more money into the Saddledome or McMahon Stadium, he said.
No deal could be made, says King
Mayor Naheed Nenshi declined to give a comment during a break at city council Tuesday night. He has asked councillors to return after their dinner break for a closed door meeting, and is expected to give his reaction to the media afterward.
He has raised concerns about using taxpayer dollars to fund a new arena in the past.
Nenshi, running for re-election this October, said earlier this week that his campaign wanted to see the new arena as part of the revitalized entertainment district near the current Saddledome. King said he called Nenshi’s office on Monday to talk about his vision, and said it was clear when talking to Nenshi’s chief of staff that what he considered to be a fair deal would not work.
“He does not see the merit in the response we had,” said King.
The city had been talking with the Flames about a “Plan B” site in the community of Victoria Park, west of Fifth Street between 12th and 14th avenues S.E. Those negotiations came after the city rejected the team’s CalgaryNext proposal for the West Village.