Arena Plan Announcement Within Weeks, Says King

In the latest development in a story that keeps dragging on without actually developing, Calgary Flames CEO Ken King stated today that the new arena project would be announced within the next few weeks.

King shared the news in a morning appearance on KISS 95.9 this morning.

The Flames have been trying to replace the Saddledome for literally just shy of a decade, looking jealously at other markets while the Saddledome has quietly become one of the oldest arenas in the entire National Hockey League. Edmonton and Detroit are poised to open brand-new arenas in the next few seasons (Edmonton in 2016, Detroit in 2017 or 2018), while the New York Islanders are leaving the confines of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center next season.

All this, combined with the extensive renovations to Madison Square Garden (which will likely be mothballed when the current lease expires in 2023 to make room for a new Penn Station) means that the Saddledome is rather drab and dated in comparison.

This latest announcement is a bit of a Groundhog Day announcement, in the sense that King has publicly stated that an announcement was coming “within weeks,” and no details about location, funding structure or anything else have emerged since the project was first teased in 2007. The Flames are definitely envious of the funding package garnered by the Oilers for their new building, but both the City of Calgary and the province have been hesitant – at best – to throwing any money towards a new Flames arena.

I don’t want to be overly skeptical, but I’ll believe there’s an announcement when I see an announcement.

  • icedawg_42

    I’ve only been to a couple other NHL arenas in my time, but coming home afterwards, the dome is definitely aged, well past it’s prime. Interestingly, another article in the SUN this morning talked about how front line entertainers are snubbing the dome because it won’t mesh with modern day shows.

      • Colin.S

        Giving breaks is one thing, agreeing to pay 300+ million and then give over total control of thing you just paid 300 million for is another. Look at the Edmonton arena deal. The city only gets 28 non-commercial days a year to hold events and the property tax is capped on the arena/winter gardens as well.

  • Parallex

    Meh, didn’t we hear an announcement would be due in a few weeks a few years ago?

    Regardless, I don’t want to hear that 1 cent of taxpayer money is being used to subsidize this. Billionaires own this team… if they want a new arena they can damn well pay for it themselves.

  • Parallex

    I’m hearing it will be a multi-sport complex:

    One built for Flames/Roughnecks, Stamps and a soccer pitch for a new MLS team (possibly)

    Ken King will be putting a creative spin on his pitch to co-inside with Calgary bidding for the Winter Olympics in 2022 or 2026.

    They will try to squeeze some tax dollars.. in a non-direct way.

      • Colin.S

        I have no idea.. just what I heard.

        I’m guessing it will be selling tax payers on Calgary making a bid for the Winter Olympics as an excuse to build a multi-sport complex.

        He’s not going to come out and say, we want a new arena, and we want tax payers to pay for it.

        There will be a “mono-rail” type of song and dance that goes along with it.

      • Parallex


        In lieu of direct funding they try to get the City/Province to provide everything they can for free (land, assessments, permits, utilities etc. etc.) that would ordinarily incur a charge or sale. That’s the only thing I can think of that would be “non-direct” funding.

    • Frank Miron

      May I respond to your opinion which you are most entitled of course….I believe it is a multi-sport facility that will be used not only by the Flames but very much by amateur sports in the city! Although there will some kind of self funding approach no doubt there will be a need for public money in addition to the huge amount of private funding from the Flames enterprise group.

      As a tax payer I will support some sort of tax payer support for this project. I will have an open mind to the spin-off effect not only to amateur sports but to the hundreds of jobs that will be created within the service industry i.e. Hotel clerks, chambermaids, restaurant owners, taxi drivers, etc. etc.

      We need to get over the narrow mindedness of a rich hockey team with rich owners…these guys will more that do there part and I don’t believe the complete onus should be on them given the broad anticipated benefits to the entire City and Province.

      Let’s get behind this as supporters and enjoy the benefits rather than come out with comments like “Let’s say no”….

      • Parallex

        The “hundreds of jobs that will be created” is hogwash. It doesn’t create any of that, it merely moves it from other locations.

        There are many independent studies that conclude that sports facility funding is a bad deal for municipalities.

        It’s a corporate welfare handout to billionaires. I want no part of it.

        • Colin.S

          Let’s wait until the proposal is submitted then we can debate intelligently. All I say at this point is if there is benefit for my kids and grandchildren then I want to do my part as a tax payer, whatever that is.

          I’m sick and tired of having venue’s like Regina, Winnipeg, Edmonton etc putting us too shame with state of the art facilities. I also like my music concerts who are merely skipping over Calgary and going to Edmonton..Ouch!!

          Let’s have an open mind and seriously consider the spin-off effects primarily for amateur sports….I am betting the Flames private owners are going to fund a significant part of this…I don;t believe it should all be in there hands..let’s be mature and reasonable…

          • Colin.S

            Edmonton is spending 580 Million on the project FYI, the are arena by itself is 480 million. The only contribution that the Katz group is making is the 24 million in cash. The rest he has pledged in monies that will be paid back to the city through various means(eventually), but the city is putting up the upfront cost so that cost can’t be deducted from what the city of Edmonton is paying RIGHT NOW.

          • tmurph`

            The arena will be funded by the following sources:[8]
            $279-million from the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) and other incremental revenues (increased parking revenue, reallocation of existing subsidy paid to Northlands and new taxes from business in the arena)
            $125-million from ticket surcharge on all events in the new arena
            $137.81-million from lease revenue for the Arena
            $23.68-million in cash from Edmonton Arena Corporation
            $25-million from other government sources

            Just an FYI the arena is owned by the city of Edmonton. Just leased by Oilers.

          • Colin.S

            And as the leasee what are they paying the city of Edmonton?

            Also, all those sources of funding you mentioned there are all tax revenue sources from the city of Edmonton, the city of Edmonton is still paying for that arena.

          • Colin.S

            Hey Kitty…Shania Twain is one small simple example…are you able to read the numerous other reasons…read carefully now…amateur sports..other spin-off you know what spin-off means?It’s economic benefits for about Calgary kids benefiting through there hockey programs……do you expect a free ride Kitty…or do you want to do your part?? Let’s not be greedy Kitty let’s be mature and reasonable now….

          • Colin.S

            How does amateur sports benefit from a new arena exactly, like in Edmonton, the Oilers ownership group controls all the dates for that arena except for 28 community days (non commercial ventures) the city can use the arena for. It seems that amateur sports would far more benefit from the city using the money the Flames want for their arena and instead build several smaller arenas/multiplexes for amateur sports if that’s your argument.

            And spin-off benefits. Please show me a study, or something concrete that shows that have 41 home games a year has some sort of gigantic impact on the economy of the city of Calgary? Spinoffs is a buzzword con men use to sell the idea of the public giving over 300 million dollars without having to actually give any money back to the public.

            A free ride? Are you on Crack? What the hell are you talking about. You make it sound like if the city doesn’t pony up all minor hockey will suddenly evaporate. In that case better start building half billion dollar arenas in all Regina/Sasksaton/Kelowna/Moncton and more so that their minor hockey programs don’t go belly up either.

          • Colin.S

            There are hundreds of published studies that confirm huge spin-off benefits by having Pro franchises in your City….just go and ask the hundreds and hundreds of Restaurant/Hotel workers including owners during the past 2 NHL stoppages. Not to mention the airlines, Saddledome workers, chefs, etc etc.

            Go and enjoy your crack and potatoes chips…you are the first guy to cry when these teams are gone…enjoy your 1987 built Saddledome while other venues generate huge revenues for there respective Cities and citizens. Want to talk about charities??

          • Colin.S

            All right since there are hundreds, can you find me at least 3 so I can read them?

            Your going to make the argument that Hotals/Restaurants/Bars will all suddenly go under because the Flames won’t have a new arena. How do you even make that argument? People are going to stop going out for entertainment? The Flames will leave town if they don’t get an arena? Where are they going to go? They are a top 10 NHL market, they’d lose more money moving then building their own arena.

            Why would I cry if they leave? They are a business, it’s not like my wife is leaving me.

            And you again miss the point on your last comment. The Flames are a BUSINESS if they want feel that their current building is not adequate and that a new building would generate more revenue for them, THEY can build one. It’s not up to the government to provide private businesses with buildings with which to operate. If I want to start up a pizza business that will employ people and benefit my city the city isn’t about to pony up a couple hundred thousand dollars to build my pizza parlor, much like if the Flames want a new building because it will make their hockey teams/NLL team money then it’s up to them to build it.

          • Colin.S

            Wow the martyrs on this site are unbelievable. You don’t believe there is an economic benefit to having a pro franchise and a nice arena in your city. So when 20,000 people +/- fill the arena 200 days a year, there’s no benefit to employees working there and the spin off business for restaurants, hotels, taxis etc? I was in St. Louis last summer and downtown was an absolute ghost town. Office towers were closed and there was no traffic at rush hour. I spoke to some business associates who commented the only time the downtown core was vibrant and businesses were busy was for home games by the Cardinals. Everyone commented that without the Cards, the St. Louis core would be empty. So yes, there’s a responsibility by government to not irresponsibly spend tax dollars but a city with a pro hockey franchise is a much better place to live than one without.

          • Colin.S


            What if Suncor comes to Calgary city council and says that they want the city of Calgary to build them a brand new officer tower at the cost of 1.2 billion and they are not going to give the city a cent to build or they are leaving town and taking the thousands of full time jobs that go with it. Are you going to start building them officer towers to because all those jobs have huge economic benefits to?

            A public/private partnership can work, and I’ve said it in this article. But the public side should be restricted to roads/transport and the land while the actual building should be entirely private. Other teams have built and financed their stadiums privately why does the city of Calgary have to put up a single dollar? If the Flames want a new building and they want all the revenues associated with the building they should build the building, if they want public money to finance it then people that built the building and own the building should be able to take the parking revenues, charge their tenant rent, take all concert revenue, etc….

            If you want to sit there and give billionaires tax dollars cause feelings and stuff, well fools and their money are soon parted.

          • Colin.S

            You have missed the point entirely….you are assuming incorrectly that this is a Flames only facility…have you not been paying attention to anything?? This is going to be a community facility…why don’t you wait until the announcement is made before you get on the tax payer supporting the rich owners band wagon…you obviously have no idea what impact the Flames have and have had in Calgary including amateur sports and charities.

            Get in line with modern thinkiing and quit living in the 70’s. This is not about the innocent tax payer’s supporting millionaires…how archaic!

          • Colin.S

            A community facility? Like the one in Edmonton where the community only has access to it for 28 days a year? Is that what 600 million buys you, 28 days of arena use for the community?

            Modern thinking? How is giving hundreds of millions of dollars getting in line with modern thinking? Yes this is exactly about tax payers supporting not millionaires but BILLIONAIRES.

            I hope the Flames are paying you to go into forums and new sites about this story to say positive things about how community forking over hundreds of millions of dollars is a good thing because I can’t believe anyone is that dense.

        • Colin.S

          So what do you do when an arena is 30 years old? 40 years? 50 years? At some point you need to build and the owners need a formula that makes sense. They didn’t become billionaires making bad deals.

          • Colin.S

            What do the owners do when the arena their sports team plays in are 30/40/50 years old and they need a new arena, THEY BUILD THEMSELVES A DAMN ARENA! It’s not a hard thing to understand. Their business relies on a large build than cause house approximately 20,000 people to make their business successful. If they don’t want to build a new building for their business then they are going to have to use whatever they are currently using or give up on the multi million dollar investment(their team).

            And yes these guys didn’t become billionaires through bad deals, which is why you immediately know this won’t be a good deal for the city. Look at the Miami Marlins Boondoogle as a perfect example of why you don’t build private stadiums using public money.

  • Reidja

    There is no way that this doesn’t get some level of public funding support. This isn’t Texas and the owners aren’t Jerry Jones. An abysmal example was set by Katz in Edmonton and I think we will be able to take pride in the outcome here. I’ll at least start with that premise as King has proven himself to be classy and effective in these types of deals.

    The level of public support should be in some way commensurate with the merits of the project. If this is a massive complex in Balsac, I’ll be advocating for relatively less public funding support than if it’s in, say, west downtown.

    We’ll see after the announcement I suppose.

  • Naturally public money will be spent. My hope is that it’s done to a benefit of the wider population of Calgarians not just Flames/Stamps fans.

    If there is indeed an amateur facility included and it is state of the art like suggested then i could foresee the city approving money towards infrastcuture for that and towards the facilities.

    Bowtrail needs major work
    14th street needs a major and intelligent interchange at 6th and 8th.

    Maybe they can convince the province to kick in money for Crowchild trail upgrades.

    The city will likely give the Flames a tax break & include the land at no cost to the owners with some sort of caveat.

    As for the arena/stadium/flames hotel/casino whatever they want there themselves. Not a single penny should be spent on the actual building of those components. I’m fine with that as a Flames fan just as a taxpayer I am fine with the city spending on upgrades to infrastructure around or cutting deals on land and taxes with the owners.

    • Colin.S

      This is closer to the way a Public/Private partnership should work. The City of Calgary is not there to hand out money to build private buildings for private businesses. But considering that a downtown arena(and maybe stadium) would be a huge impact to the downtown it’s vital on the cities part to work with developers of big projects to make sure streets and transit can work to make things flow more effectively.

      If King and Co. want money from the city/province to fix/change roads, LTRs, busses and what have you. That’s an acceptable expense(to a point) for the city to take on, because it won’t just help one business but a better downtown infrastructure can help lots of businesses.

      • Parallex

        Yes, if the sole measure of public expenditure is transportation expansion to facilitate travel to and fro then I’d be fine with it (so long as it’s not out in the sticks).

        But absolutely NO direct cash funding or gifts in kind.

        • piscera.infada

          King said in the interview that the Arena will be downtown. He basically said history has shown us that any project of this nature outside of the city centre is doomed fail.

  • Jeremy

    it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that the City would give the Flames land to build their new rink on as a lease deal. That is the land is still owned by the City, but is leased to the Flames for a nominal fee of $1 per year for 100 years. That way they can say they’ve kept ownership of the land and can account for it as an asset going forward.

  • Colin.S

    Wow >s are not encoded… Nice…

    Anyhow the value of the asset would be less than $1.

    You can’t plop something on the balance sheet for $100 million if all you’re getting is $1 in cash flow for it.

    You have to have a gigantic writedown or a gigantic goodwill entry…

    • Colin.S

      Actually the land still has tremendous value regardless of what you are charging someone to use that land for. Even though the land is only being leased out for 1$ the land might still be worth 20+ million (for example) if the city were to sell the land.

      It would most likely be an appreciating asset on the cities books because Land for the most part gains in value, especially prime downtown realestate. Unless there’s a giant house crash the land at the least retains it’s value.

  • Colin.S

    New York City was lumped with a 1 billion dollar price tag to help the Yankees and Mets build new stadiums a few years back, roughly half of the cost. The difference there is the Yankees are an internationally popular team that actually does bring money into the city with tourism. As much as I love my Flames, our international fan base pales in comparison to theirs.

    • Colin.S

      How is your comment pertinent to the Calgary situation??

      What does international appeal have anything to do with a community project??

      This is not a big USA city…apply your logic to a Canadian city of 1.2MM people…this is not LA Houston or New York…

      • Colin.S

        Well the fact that the stands are going to fill as much as they normally would at the Dome, actually less if I heard right that the new place will have less seating. So there won’t be any extra infusion into the city’s economy because of the Flames for this. It shouldn’t be put on the taxpayers of Calgary to make sure they don’t feel like they can’t show their cohonas off to the other owners. New York citizens were absolutely angry about having to put 1 billion dollars into new sports stadiums, even when they were pulling from over 10 million people, now just 1.2 mil.

  • I’m fine with the City and Province pledging infrastructure improvements around the site of a new multiplex and getting a share of ownership in the multiplex equal to their share of contribution in its construction. I’m puzzled that King insists it has to be downtown when near the airport would be just as good a site as any.

    • Colin.S

      Definitely needs to be downtown. Corporate sponsors, boxes and proximity to the downtown core is essential. Restaurants and bars within the facility will generate revenue not only from the hockey crowd but also by the downtown clientele.

  • piscera.infada

    Buy and read the book “Field of Schemes” by Neil deMause and Joanna Cagan. Great book. It illustrates the historical examples of not only the issues associated with using public money to build arena/”entertainment complexes” of this nature, but also how owners of these teams typically use fear mongering (ie. relocation) and half-truths (ie. community revitalization) to change the whim of the community and thus the elected officials. It helped change my perspective on the issue.

    I’m with several of the people here, the city and province can fund the infrastructure improvements necessary to make it viable.