Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames go nuclear: ‘No longer going to pursue new arena in Calgary’

Arena talks between the Calgary Flames and the City of Calgary have been going on for two full years, following the August 2015 unveiling of the CalgaryNEXT proposal.

After two years of negotiations, it appears that talks are no longer going on.

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The timing of the impromptu press conference announcing the end of talks is probably not a coincidence. Two days ago, incumbent mayor Naheed Nenshi unveiled his platform plank involving considerable public and private investment in a cultural and entertainment district centered around Stampede Park – with a brand new building for the Flames as the centerpiece.

The municipal election is slated for Oct. 16, with Nenshi being challenged for the mayor’s chair by a wide range of challengers including council member Andre Chabot and former Alberta Progressive Conservative Party executive Bill Smith.

Earlier today, the City of Seattle reportedly came to terms (or is close to it) with the Oak View Group regarding a $660 million private investment to turn the aging KeyArena into an NHL-caliber building. Seattle has long been seen as the logical addition to the Western Conference to create a balanced 32-team league, but it’s also frequently been brought up as a potential suitor for teams with aging buildings – Seattle is to the NHL what Los Angeles has long been to the NFL.

On the surface, based on the negotiations we’ve seen recently in places like Edmonton, this seems like a negotiation tactic. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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  • The Doctor

    Just one comment about this “influencing the election” thing. If the Flames’ ownership are actually thinking they can or will influence the outcome of the election in their favour, that’s a risky move bordering on hubris and even foolishness. History and common sense tells us that sort of thing often backfires or results in negative unintended consequences. That said, if the intention of the owners is to insert this into the dialogue and make this an issue during the election, that’s a good thing. This should be vigorously and publicly debated. It could, for example, result in Nenshi and/or the owners backing off a bit from their more extreme positions and agreeing to negotiate further in good faith, as a result of public pressure.

  • Tates

    So silly.

    Replacing a Canadian city’s Hockey rink is like replacing a pacemaker.

    You get it done because the consequences are brutal.

    Time for these adults to start acting like it. On both sides.

  • Howedy

    I don’t live in Calgary anymore but if I did I would love the chance to vote for anyone else but Nenshi. Moving back to Ontario and of course still living in Canada, sadly I haven’t been able to escape the now common issue of windbag politicians attempting to tell taxpayers, business owners and anyone who will listen that our money is better off in Government control. The less the city of Calgary has to do with the planning and execution of ANYTHING the better, especially if has to do with the Flames new arena. They can’t even build pedestrian bridges without screwing up beyond comprehension, an arena and surrounding complexes will come in a few years late at double the budget with massive engineering flaws. Just like everything else they touch.

  • buts

    Nenshi says “no public money for private benefit”. I didn’t know all these condos and buildings owned by private business in the east village which was started by a government funded CRL were for MY benefit. I had no say that my tax dollars would be used in building the pedestrian bridge that connects nothing, or useless art, or a new home for the homeless called a library, the airport expansion, the airport tunnel that goes no-where and many other projects. I want a city to be proud of that has top notch facilities for all.

    • dontcryWOLF

      In this city, Ralph Klein was the first to say “no public money for private profit “. Made sense to me then, makes sense still when nenshi says it now.

    • Avalain

      To be fair, the pedestrian bridge was pushed through by a group that was then largely replaced. So it wasn’t Nenshi. I talked to someone and that stupid circle in the middle of nowhere was actually a requirement of an old policy which required some level of art spread around the city (and I think that they amended it).

      The airport tunnel… I heard that it actually will pay for itself but I seriously do not understand how.

      Also, you want a city that has facilities for all, but you are upset about a library that is used by everyone and you want an arena that can only be used by upper class?

  • dontcryWOLF

    Don’t have time to read through all the comments to see if this has already been said, but Murray Edwards(owner of Calgary Sports and Entertainment) is the last person id want to get the benefit from my tax dollars. He’s one of the top 20 richest people in Canada, and recently changed his residence to London to avoid paying taxes here in Alberta. This man is not a patriot, doesn’t care about our province, or this city. Let’s just be clear about that as we go forward.

    Don’t be fooled by these petty manipulation tactics, my friends.

  • WillyWonka

    long time flames fan, sick and tired of being threatened by billionaire owners, millionaire management types, who want citizens who already cant afford tickets to see a game to pay a billion dollars so that can increase their profit margins to acceptable levels.
    at this stage, i say please, just move already, but remember, just like Bettman said, “there is consequences”. you want to increase your margins because the lack of high priced box seats and lack of concert revenue, but you think you can move to another city and do better? either your really stupid, or think the fans are really stupid.
    move a team with 20,000 tickets sold to every game, of whom 15,000 wear expensive jerseys in their seats, to a city where you will fight for years to get up to 16,000 seats filled with paying customers, who of course will pay less per seat than the Canadian market, and who wont be wearing expensive jerseys… ya, consequences.
    for me, the shine is off, and my joy for this team and the new season is tarnished.

  • Tates

    Has anyone ever looked at the actual tax implications, in real money for real people?

    If the question is posed as, “Would you pay an extra (20?) Dollars per year in taxes to support new facilities for the city?”

    What would the response be?

    • dontcryWOLF

      Wouldn’t change my opinion. Ethics and values, In my determination, are not a relative value equation. The principle of this argument stays the same whether we are talking about $20, or $2000.

      The Flames , being a privately held corporation, should be responsible for funding the infrastructure needed to run their business. This is the case for all other business owners in the city (including me). Sports teams are able to capitalize on taxpayers due to the fact that many of us have an emotional attachment to hockey, and are blinded into forgetting that the allegiance is not mutual.

      • Robear

        totally agree.
        Plus, I dont think we are talking just $20 per person. If current estimates are correct the Flames are asking the City to invest ~$150-$200MM to the new arena, IN ADDITION to any required CIty upgrades needed to local infrastructure (All that beer and nachos has to get flushed out and processed somehow!). That money is almost all coming out of our property taxes. Calgary is about 1MM people with about 500,000 taxed properties. so you are looking at $400 for increased property taxes, JUST for the arena!

  • madjam

    It seems their is always plenty of money , etc. for things like Olympic buildings .etc. that will not have near the use of one new arena and still cost taxpayers for their upkeep later . If Flames cannot be reasonably profitable then their is little use in Flames remaining in a non profit market for to long . Seems to me the arena is the better option and best return on that investment, and more permanent . It also allows you to keep NHL hockey in Calgary and that should mean a lot to hockey fans . The spin off from any NHL team is/can be huge , more than just the psyche of the city and satellites . Revitalization of downtown area pays benefits more than just estetics and jobs . I wonder how many big businesses in city go tax free for years just to bring jobs and business to area ?

    • Robear

      I believe the Revitalization Levy was a concept used by the Flames to help justify the West Village proposal. But my understanding is that the City calculated the cost of upgrades required to the West Village local infrastructure to accomodate the Flames proposal and found that it was going to cost the City an unacceptable amount of money, upfront AND over the long term, even when accounting for any improvement in the area and increased taxes from local businesses.

  • Flames fan since 83

    Here is a hockey analogy:
    BT paid a high price to aquire Hamonic (One 1st and two 2nd round picks). BT paid a somewhat low price to keep Sam Bennett (1.95 mil for 2 years).
    Hamonic was an outside commodity that Flames had to bring in. Bennett was Flames property and a restricted free agent. BT played hard ball and strung out the negotiation to get the best deal for Bennett.
    Some one suggested that cities are offerring Amazon, whom is looking for a new home, lots of Government “assistance” to pick their city. And that Calgary should consider the Flames as the same as Amazon.
    I’m all for marketing and even paying to bring in a company like Amazon.
    But the situation with the Flames is more like Bennetts. The Calgary Flames are already here and are restricted in moving by the NHL. They can’t just up and move away. I’m not a fan of some things Nenshi has done, but I am a fan of my money and a huge Flames fan. I know we will get an arena at some point. But the correct thing to do is string out the negotiations to get the best, fairest conclusion.

    • dontcryWOLF

      Amazon would bring 50 000 high paying, full time jobs to Calgary. A new arena brings zero new jobs to Calgary. The jobs the flames offer are primarily low paying, part time concession jobs.

      In any event, I’m sure nobody will suggest that we build Amazon an office building. Like all other businesses, they will be expected to pay for that themselves.

        • Flames fan since 83

          Negotiation approach is the same. Thats the point.
          The parties (hockey to amazon) are apples to oranges. And many other comparisons between the two are completely different, but not the general tactic of negotiating!

        • Danomitee

          I would argue that they’re helping small businesses flourish. They’ve killed the department warehouses like Sears, but small businesses can sell their products through Amazon. Everything in my home has been purchased through a small business that I wouldn’t have any knowledge of if it weren’t for companies like Amazon.

  • Albertabeef

    So I just had a thought. Someone on here said the team only made $5 million profit. Now I thought the salary cap was a 50/50 split of profits between players and teams which would mean a profit of around 70 million to the owners. Johnny and Gio are top paid players on the team. Are you telling me an employee makes more than an owner? That would be a first in history lol.

    • Robear

      I believe that you have most of that correct. The subtle difference is that its a 50/50 REVENUE split. In layman terms Profit is the difference between the Revenue minus all operating costs (concession costs, building operating costs etc.). The players get half of the Revenue as do the owners. So the Flames foundation that operates the Calgary Flames could conceivably only have made $5MM in profit. Its rife with financial jiggery though. A good accountant can make your balance sheet say all sorts of things in order to minimize tax or maximize profits.

  • I went to golf.
    Had to shower 3 times when i got home to get the pompous, grandstanding stench off.
    Even a day later, just a huge level of disgust with the KK performance.
    Kind of sad to be a SSH at the moment as the least I expect is some integrity from the brass.
    Oh well.
    The meal was good.