Bettman Met Mayor Nenshi

As the Calgary Flames season chugs along, other things are happening off the ice that may have an impact (or not) in the future.

In an appearance with Rob Kerr on The Big Show on Sportsnet 960 The Fan yesterday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned that he had met with Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, for the first time the day prior. We’ve since been able to confirm the Wednesday meeting with the mayor’s office, though they declined further comment.

While chatting with Kerr on-air, Bettman characterized it as a “getting to you know” style of meeting. Nenshi (along with several other members of city council) has long been an opponent of committing public money towards a new arena for the Flames – rather spending infrastructure money on other large-scale projects instead. Bettman mentioned the meeting when responding to a query by Kerr regarding a new arena and the league’s role in that process.

A new building is Calgary – regardless of the financing scheme – is likely inevitable, so we’ll almost definitely have more on the arena saga as it unfolds.

  • beloch

    There are ways the city can assist in building a new arena besides fronting the cash. Due to the large impact on city planning, Nenshi pretty much has to be involved. The low dollar and recent interest rate cut makes now a pretty good time for the Flames’ owners to start a new arena, and that’s not even considering all they’ve saved up due to the team’s low payroll!

    • Parallex

      A good time for the Flames’ owners to start a new arena… you sure about that? Regardless I’d bet far more money on Bettman trying to help weasal public money for it instead.

      Just shelve it for now. With the recent significant dip in the world oil price neither the public nor the collection of oilmen that own the Flames will have any appitite for that kind of expediture.

      • beloch

        First, hockey is pretty similar to alcohol in being recession resistant. Good times or bad times, people drink beer and watch hockey. The Red Wings still sell out games. Second, if any of the funds are currently tied up in international investments, a low Canadian dollar makes construction cheaper. Third, interest rates are only going to go up from where they are now, so now is pretty optimal for borrowing. Interest rates are low enough that the owners might choose to borrow even if they have enough cash in their pockets. Finally, stadium construction takes quite a while. You plan for the market 5-10 years from now.

        Ultimately, it’s up to the owners to decide if now’s the time to build. I don’t really care so long as they fund it themselves.

  • mattyc

    Bettman also mentioned one of the main features that makes the Saddledome ‘out of date’ is that it doesn’t have enough lower bowl seating (Saddledome is ~4500, new arenas are ~7500) “to get fans closer to the game”. Maybe I’m being cynical – but that sounds like “The saddledome doesn’t make us enough money because we want more 200$ seats” than that the building isn’t functional from a concert/hockey game POV.

    IMO it shouldn’t be a priority for the city to be funding a new arena to help the Flames make more money, especially with pressing needs on city transit infrastructure and the ‘current economic climate’.

    • piscera.infada

      I agree with everything you’re saying, with one exception. The “building isn’t functional for concerts” argument is entirely true. While I have been to some amazing shows at the Saddledome, it is painfully true that many tours pass over Calgary simply because the venue cannot host the rigs used by many acts.

      However, I tend to agree wholeheartedly with the fact that tax dollars should not be used to build a new arena.

      It’s a conundrum because the city definitely needs a new venue. No one should be arguing that.

      Personally, I liked the idea of the Alberta lottery to raise funds. If you care, you care. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to fruition.

      • Parallex

        I don’t think a lotto would work. It’s essentually still public money since it’d just be syphoning off lotto dollars that otherwise would go directly to the province.

        Besides which the amount needed for the arena (say $250,000,000.00?) would be about 18% of the yearly disbursement from the Alberta Lotto Fund.

  • mattyc

    Bettman here looking for handouts,public money to make the 1 % even richer on tax payers back. Just like what happen in Edmonton, the city virtually covered Katz purchase cost of the oilers with a new building. Arena naming rights,concert dates,hockey dates concessions etc.

  • mk

    I’m going to support the other posters – I love watching hockey & going to shows at the arenas (in Calgary when I was there, now in Vancouver), but those businesses should front the cash.

    Every time a business opens a new store, they’re not asking the city/province for money to build their store front because of ‘economic benefit’. The council/legislature would laugh at them. If large scale entertainment businesses were serious about justifying public investment of funds into arenas, there would a measurable benefit for the community. Not shows where the ticket price is what some families live off of for food in a month.

    The public investment in these types of projects should be things like infrastructure. Want to build an arena? The city/province can build a C-train station & bus loop to the stadium if it is located along the tracks. Once people walk up the steps and pay their money to a business, the government’s investment should end there.

    • Robear

      Im not sure I understand the angst toward Edwards. Sure he`s wealthy, but that doesn’t mean he`s a bad person! And nowhere have I seen anything about the Flames asking for handouts. Seems like a manufactured issue.

      I agree that handouts for constructing a new arena/stadium are not warranted, but the City pretty much HAS to be involved in the planning stage.
      Or would people prefer an arena constructed with no available public transit either?

      • Avalain

        No one has anything against him personally. It’s just that its wrong to get tax payers to give a guy with billions of dollars a ton of money. It’s stealing from the poor to give to the rich. I mean maybe if the new arena was paid for by taxpayers and subsequently owned by taxpayers, but realistically I don’t like that idea either because the city shouldn’t be getting into business ventures like that.

        • mk

          The city could gift some land or a portion of same.Pretending a new facility wouldn’t be a benefit to the city as a whole is unrealistic in my opinion.More taxes.More business. More events.Bigger events.More jobs.

          It will most likely take a long long time to get any approval on any level from the current mayor.He,d rather see 400 sq ft apartment complexes on the site.