The CalgaryNEXT Rhetoric War Rages On

Ryan Pike
January 11 2016 06:36PM

National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman was in Calgary today and at the top of his agenda was discussion of the CalgaryNEXT arena/stadium proposal. The lunch hour saw Bettman attend a function hosted by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce where he extolled the virtues of the project and encouraged the city's business leaders to contact their political representatives to get the project moving ahead.

Bettman's stumping for the project didn't fall on deaf ears, as Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi had a pretty memorable response. After the jump is a brief rundown of what was said on both sides.

GARY BETTMAN

All second-half accounts via Twitter, as Bettman's appearance at the Chamber wasn't recorded. He covered much of the same ground on the air with Rob Kerr of Sportsnet 960 The Fan (and you can listen to their chat here.)

NAHEED NENSHI

DID ANYTHING CHANGE?

Nope. The city's still examining the proposal using the framework that they laid out in the fall. The next actual new developments in this ongoing saga will probably be in late April, when the report from the first phase of the framework should be hitting City Hall. And coincidentally, that's also about the time we should learn more about the remediation costs.

So what was actually accomplished by all the hubbub today? Not much. To quote the Bard:

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames since 2010. He's Senior Contributing Editor at FlamesNation, a Senior Writer covering the Flames and the NHL Draft for The Hockey Writers, and a correspondent for the Fischler Report. He's just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.
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#1 ClayBort
January 11 2016, 06:45PM
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So, the only missing ingredient is the money?

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#2 Marbled Blue Cheese
January 11 2016, 06:47PM
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Monorail...monorail...monorail...monorail...

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#3 Colin.S
January 11 2016, 06:52PM
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ClayBort wrote:

So, the only missing ingredient is the money?

Yup, Edwards, King and the NHL are going to bring out all the stops in the hopes that morons are willing to provide welfare to billionaires. Can't spend any of their own money on something they are going to receive all the benefit from when its been so easy to get tax payers to spend their money.

With all of Kings previous efforts seemingly having no effect on getting that welfare money, this seems like a big step up. Wonder how long before we hear how the low Canadian dollar and weak oil is having such a negative impact on the Flames that they are going to need that new building to stay competitive or they may have to look for a new home.

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#4 Nik
January 11 2016, 07:01PM
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Not a well thought out plan that Bettman/King put together here. Nenshi is not a sport fan/supporter...he couldn't care less about the related benefit's that strong professional sport franchises currently/will bring to Calgary....perhap's a bit of a firm strategy around private funding for Flames interest and public funding for the field house was in order....

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#5 The GREAT Walter White
January 11 2016, 07:01PM
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Dear Mr. Bettman.

Please put safeguards in place NOW so that the Oilers don't pick top 3 again at the draft this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WW

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#6 Parallex
January 11 2016, 07:02PM
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Blah, Bettman on the preshow being interviewed by Millions... Millions is the worst. He's such a bootlicker, the guy wouldn't know a tough question if it roughed him up and stole his wallet.

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#7 Stu Cazz
January 11 2016, 07:05PM
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The GREAT Walter White wrote:

Dear Mr. Bettman.

Please put safeguards in place NOW so that the Oilers don't pick top 3 again at the draft this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WW

It's too late. This should have been on the NHL/NHLPA's agenda at the end of last season. Unfortunately I see the loser Oilers drafting Auston Matthews and the losers having 2 phenom's in the line-up next season...

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#8 Flames Fan in Edmonchuck
January 11 2016, 07:06PM
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Parallex wrote:

Blah, Bettman on the preshow being interviewed by Millions... Millions is the worst. He's such a bootlicker, the guy wouldn't know a tough question if it roughed him up and stole his wallet.

Truer words have never been spoken

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#9 Colin.S
January 11 2016, 07:10PM
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Parallex wrote:

Blah, Bettman on the preshow being interviewed by Millions... Millions is the worst. He's such a bootlicker, the guy wouldn't know a tough question if it roughed him up and stole his wallet.

Do you really expect different? Millions job is based on the NHL, he's not gonna steam roll the guy who might as well be his boss. Millions is a mouth piece for the Flames/NHL and if the Flames/NHL can do better it will benefit him, so he's going to be a little biased.

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#10 Dougie & The Fro
January 11 2016, 07:52PM
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Parallex wrote:

Blah, Bettman on the preshow being interviewed by Millions... Millions is the worst. He's such a bootlicker, the guy wouldn't know a tough question if it roughed him up and stole his wallet.

Props. I totally agree, but in Millions' defense, that is his job. I fully expect that the whole interview was scripted by the NHL.

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#11 Tory
January 11 2016, 07:56PM
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Parallex wrote:

Blah, Bettman on the preshow being interviewed by Millions... Millions is the worst. He's such a bootlicker, the guy wouldn't know a tough question if it roughed him up and stole his wallet.

The questions are not Millions...they are prepared by the Producers long before the interview...part of television....Millions is merely the puppet that reads them and keeps his hair jelled....

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#12 piscera.infada
January 11 2016, 08:11PM
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Thank God Eric Francis chimed in there. Plug.

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#13 The GREAT Walter White
January 11 2016, 08:44PM
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Why doesn't Bettman call up Nutley or Trudeau and see if they will pay for the new arena for the billionaires...?

WW

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#14 Mike FAIL
January 11 2016, 08:51PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Thank God Eric Francis chimed in there. Plug.

He's crying on Twitter right now.

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#15 wot96
January 11 2016, 08:56PM
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@piscera.infada

For shame Mayor Nenshi...for shame...

Edit: Sarcasm.

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#16 Colin.S
January 11 2016, 09:08PM
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https://twitter.com/nenshi/status/686751078226853889

Nenshi confirms what everyone knows anyways.

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#17 McRib
January 11 2016, 09:19PM
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@Parallex

I started loathing Millions the moment I first joined Twitter. He just blocks everyone who doesn't have the exact same opinion (a completely biased homer opinion) as himself. If everyone other than yourself is an "idiot" who is the real idiot!?!?!

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#18 Parallex
January 11 2016, 09:20PM
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@Colin.S

Yes, I do. Millions (and his producers) isn't employed by the NHL he's employed by a media organization. I don't expect the CBC to throw puffball questions to politicians despite being publically owned so why would I expect less of them?

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#19 Tory
January 11 2016, 09:29PM
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The GREAT Walter White wrote:

Why doesn't Bettman call up Nutley or Trudeau and see if they will pay for the new arena for the billionaires...?

WW

Hey big fella...are you sure that is what the billionaires want...are you absolutely sure big guy?? Educate yourself first with the facts..then let's hear your opinion...

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#20 The GREAT Walter White
January 11 2016, 10:38PM
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Tory wrote:

Hey big fella...are you sure that is what the billionaires want...are you absolutely sure big guy?? Educate yourself first with the facts..then let's hear your opinion...

Yes muffin.....the billionaires are trying to get the tax payers to pay for their billion dollar project. Gullible much? What part don't you understand?

Or are you part of the propaganda machine?

Next thing you know there will be a threat to move the team to Seattle, a move Bettman will be in favour of after being publically humiliated by Nenshi......

WW

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#21 John
January 11 2016, 10:56PM
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I can't stand Bettman, and I can't imagine him being the greatest guy to bring in to sway public opinion on this thing. Nenshi's response has been excellent.

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#22 Pat
January 11 2016, 10:56PM
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I agree with nenshi here. Dude receives a lot of hate, but he looks out for Calgary and its people. You can't please everyone. Given the state of the economy and Alberta specifically a project of this scale for recreational use dosen't make sense. Come back when oil isn't 32 fricken dollars.

I hope Bettman had more than "let's go" and all the other Twitter stuff. I understand it's his job, but come up with something intelligent and not pretend million dollar sport facilities are the only thing that matter in this world.

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#23 Tory
January 11 2016, 11:41PM
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The GREAT Walter White wrote:

Yes muffin.....the billionaires are trying to get the tax payers to pay for their billion dollar project. Gullible much? What part don't you understand?

Or are you part of the propaganda machine?

Next thing you know there will be a threat to move the team to Seattle, a move Bettman will be in favour of after being publically humiliated by Nenshi......

WW

Big fella...did you educate yourself first like I said?? your spouting garbage again...get the facts first...put the juice away and start reading....bring awareness and you may understand the funding, where it comes from and the responsibilities of the owners and the city and the province...be smart big fella....

FN Mod: I'm getting tired of this schtick. If you are going to participate in the conversation, participate in it. Mouthing off and just saying 'educate yourself' is not productive. Why don't you illuminate us all in what we should be educating ourselves in (as a productive conversation would dictate you do). You're on a short leash.

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#24 Balthazar
January 12 2016, 12:12AM
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Key points:

We (most of us) want new arena/ field house We want clean up of creosote contamination If arena is built in west end there will be substantial infrastructure build req'd The estimated price tag is the low end of cost Govt funds for arena are bad investments Private funds are good investments

Bettman came to town to apply pressure at, I assume, the request of flames Nenshi doesn't want to be pressured Report coming in May Wait til may

There's a deal to be made. But not with tax money.

We will see...

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#25 Dr. Philosophy
January 12 2016, 01:36AM
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It takes a special kind of ego to come to Calgary and think you can play public opinion against Nenshi. Bad move, Bettman, bad move.

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#26 chris
January 12 2016, 08:46AM
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Ok if you don't build a new arena etc you have polluted land and when it gets cleaned for Nenshi's buddies to build at our expense will you all be complaining then? When the fieldhouse gets built somewhere else at our expense will you complain then? The funding model works because this land will get cleaned eventually and the fieldhouse will be built. It's user pay, the levy is added to the ticket price. If you don't go you don't pay. What's wrong with that? Way to go Eric. Nenshi is looking out for personal interests I believe.

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#27 piscera.infada
January 12 2016, 09:32AM
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@chris

When the fieldhouse gets built somewhere else at our expense will you complain then?

Public funding for a 100% percent public-use facility? Yes. That's what public funds are for.

The funding model works because this land will get cleaned eventually and the fieldhouse will be built.

The "funding model"--aside from being extremely vague--doesn't take into account any contingencies with regard to: 1) excess cost of the creosote clean-up--in fact, there have been a number of experts who have cautioned that in all likelihood, the creosote clean-up could balloon north of $500 million in and of itself, depending on how extensive the issue is vis-a-vis the river; 2) the fact that the project working is contingent on massive infrastructure improvement, which yes, I'm willing to admit falls squarely within the responsibilities of government--those improvements (Crowchild Trail, Bow Trail, 14th Street, 12th Ave) however, will likely cost at the extremely low-end (which it never ends up being) in the $200-$300 million range; 3) cost-overuns--who pays then?; 4) who fronts the money for the "ticket-tax" portion of the bill?; 5) does the city actually gain any sort of return on investment other than "pride" on investing (as I've outlined) an extremely low-end figure of about $800 million in this project?

It's user pay, the levy is added to the ticket price. If you don't go you don't pay.

I suggest you educate yourself on the (admittedly) feeble proposal before you discuss, because this comment shows a complete lack of competence in what was outlined by "Calgary Next". Yes, there is a ticket tax mechanism included. Aside from the obvious question of 'who fronts that money' (as the contractors and land developers won't work for IOU's 20 years in the future), that amount only accounts for roughly 25% of the total investment. Another 20% comes directly from the city for the "field house", which is fair, I suppose--although, how much of usage will really go to public once CSEC leverages it to be used for the Stampeders, and/or other interests (would concert revenue, or any special event revenue go to the city in this case?)? Another 25% comes from the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL), which again is taken (in a bit of a round-about manner) out of the city's future property taxes in the area.

Again, this "funding" doesn't take into account the additional dollars that must be spent in order for the project to work (infrastructure, transit).

Nenshi keeps talking about "half-cocked" plans, because to-date, that's exactly what CSEC has provided. Maybe, just maybe, they have more of a "plan", however hiding that "plan" (if it exists) in not a great way to curry favour from the public. Look, there is a long history of public funding for private buildings (notably, arenas and stadia) failing horribly, and very little where is works well in the long-run. It's not pragmatic business for the city or the province to fund such a large portion of a project like this, because the perceived benefits are mostly red-herring arguments with no actual basis or merit--and that's leaving out the dire economic times our city, province, and country are currently facing.

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#28 RickT
January 12 2016, 09:32AM
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chris wrote:

Ok if you don't build a new arena etc you have polluted land and when it gets cleaned for Nenshi's buddies to build at our expense will you all be complaining then? When the fieldhouse gets built somewhere else at our expense will you complain then? The funding model works because this land will get cleaned eventually and the fieldhouse will be built. It's user pay, the levy is added to the ticket price. If you don't go you don't pay. What's wrong with that? Way to go Eric. Nenshi is looking out for personal interests I believe.

... no.

He's looking out for the taxpayer. I don't want to pay for it. I pay enough in taxes in my little condo, thank you.

Even though I am a diehard Flames fan, I do not think billionaires should be put on welfare for a new toy.

To quote @bookofloob, the only people that think this building is public are the people who have no idea what public access is. It is public in that people can go in (after paying an entrance fee).

Hey, my condo is also public in that people can come in (for free!!). Where's my 285k?

If I am funding it, I want a kickback. If the City of Calgary is investing 690m into a project, the City of Calgary deserves to receive an appropriate return. A private facility is not appropriate.

@piscera.infada also raises a great point. How much public use do you think that the citizens of Calgary will have in the middle of the CFL season, in a building whose facilities are designed for them?

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#29 piscera.infada
January 12 2016, 09:37AM
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I'd also like to say I find the latest NFL re-location news interesting in this regard. Three franchises have applied for re-location to LA, because their current homes are refusing to fund lavish new stadium complexes.

The owners of these franchises are now willing to pay a $550 million "re-location fee". Do they perhaps think that maybe that $550 million could go a long way towards a new stadium? Or do they forget that two NFL franchises have already failed in LA? "It will be different this time"... Right.

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#30 thprop1
January 12 2016, 09:43AM
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I am not a Bettman supporter but I do think Nenshi does owe it to his constituents to at least meet with the man. He can slam the idea post-meeting all he wants but he is being "paid" to represent the concerns of his constituents.

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#31 RickT
January 12 2016, 09:48AM
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thprop1 wrote:

I am not a Bettman supporter but I do think Nenshi does owe it to his constituents to at least meet with the man. He can slam the idea post-meeting all he wants but he is being "paid" to represent the concerns of his constituents.

He has met with the man. He then asked if the man had anything new to say about the topic, which he did not. Thus, he has decided to not meet with him a second time.

Nenshi is waiting until the cost analysis is done. There's nothing else to be said, unless a new plan was to be put forward by the Flames Org. or the NHL.

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#32 piscera.infada
January 12 2016, 09:54AM
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@thprop1

Nenshi's problem with the "plan" is that is decidedly vague. I disagree with the prima facie "funding model" as it was proposed, but let's put that aside for the moment.

Most egregiously, the proposal doesn't include a detailed accounting of what money, goes where. We don't yet know how much the creosote clean-up will take. We don't know what exactly what the buildings will include, or need to include outside of a sloped roof, which the price is inherently contingent upon. We don't know if there's a better, cheaper, more useful area to develop the project. We don't know what kind of cost-overuns CSEC has accounted for, and what they haven't. We don't know the extent of required infrastructure upgrades. I can go on, but I think you get the point.

There's a lot we don't know about. CSEC and Bettman (and Francis, and whomever), can play to heart strings all they want--I love the Flames, I love my city. However, until there's very real answers (and that's the operative phrase Nenshi needs use here), no amount of pull from outside forces is going to change his mind.

Bettman uses the term "transformative" over and over again. I've yet to even hear what's so "transformative" about this project. Taking an area that is under-developed, and developing it? For what will, in all likelihood, cost Calgarians close to $1 billion when all is said and done, I think we need more than that and some half-assed social media connectivity in the arena.

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#33 Parallex
January 12 2016, 12:09PM
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thprop1 wrote:

I am not a Bettman supporter but I do think Nenshi does owe it to his constituents to at least meet with the man. He can slam the idea post-meeting all he wants but he is being "paid" to represent the concerns of his constituents.

Why? Bettman didn't have anything new to contribute so what would a meeting accomplish? Frankly that just sounds like a waste of both Bettman and Nenshi's time.

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#34 Hubcap1
January 12 2016, 12:56PM
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Fire Ken King. Tell Bettman to get lost. Let Edwards and group know they need to pay to play.

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#35 Theo4HoF
January 12 2016, 01:05PM
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Honestly I'd love to get a new arena for the flames. The stamps especially need a new stadium. Want the owners to pitch their fare share but don't mind some tax dollars paying for it. I'd rather that then being spent on art projects and fancy bridges. Don't like were their planing on putting it though.

If you are not a sports fan i can understand not wanting to chip in any tax dollars, but i would personally love to go to a state of the art stadium to watch games. Can't just bend over backwards for the owners I understand but i'm all for a new arena.

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#36 class1div1
January 12 2016, 01:15PM
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Not sure what strategy the Flames had in mind, but having one narcissistic mouthpiece sound off to another narcissistic mouthpiece will get these results every time.

I don't want to pay for this arena as a taxpayer, but I do have an issue with this contaminated land. All 3 levels of Govt have done nothing about this problem for decades. INEXCUSABLE..

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#37 Jay
January 15 2016, 12:29PM
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What's wrong with the maxi-pad dome?

This team is moving to Vegas anyway. Like the ING guy says, "Save your money."

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