Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

We may have some insight as to why new arena talks are apparently over

The Calgary Flames are walking away from arena negotiations with the City of Calgary, according to Ken King’s announcement. King was vague on details about what the sticking points were in the negotiations, and evasive about how much the Flames were putting up.

The Globe and Mail’s Al Maki and Carrie Tait – both respected reporters who would likely be in a position to have sources in the know – have unearthed details about the reported last offer from the City.

Calgary offered to pay for one-third of the arena, in equal instalments over a number of years, according to a source. The money would have to be paid back. The ownership group, according to this proposal, would cover another third of the total cost and surcharge on tickets would pay for the remaining third, the source said.

The Flames organization rejected the offer, the source said.

Let’s say that the building was going to cost $500 million just as a ballpark figure. Under this scheme, the City would loan the Flames $167 million, the Flames would front $167 million more, with the remaining $167 million coming from a ticket tax. For reference, the original proposal for CalgaryNEXT had a cost estimate of $890 million, with the Flames fronting $200 million, the city $200 million, the ticket tax $250 million and a Community Revitalization Levy $240 million.

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If this reported scenario is close to accurate – and it’s an anonymously sourced report, so take it with a grain of salt – then the Flames would be putting up more money up front (for “just” a building for the Flames) and having to pay back the city’s contribution.

From the City’s perspective, straight-up giving the Flames money for an arena seems like a very hard sell given the current economic situation – and the various funding priorities the local government has – and even loaning the Flames more money would be a tough thing to justify ($200 million sounds like a lot of money, even if it’s a loan).

The Globe report probably isn’t 100% accurate, but at the very least it can probably provide a rationale as to why the meetings between the Flames and municipal leaders have been as unproductive as King claims they’ve been.

  • Stompin Tom

    C’mon, let’s stop kidding ourselves, this team needs to move stateside, Seattle or Portland are an ideal replacement. The owners and Flames brass have done all they can in poverty row Cowtown and it’s getting ugly. Much like the Quebec situation, it’s time to move on and put the team over the top like the relocation to Colorado did.

    Face it guys, Edmonton have humiliated us with their stunning new rink and have a contending team destined for more cups now with the best player since Crosby leading the charge. Why even bother?

    Unlike the superior Oilers there is no real history to hold on to in Calgary – one cup when Noah was building the ark and Lanny McDonald in the Hall are really no big deal. Move the team stateside and bring the Hitman home, they will sell out every game as there’s nuthin else to do in winter – that’s the best solution for everyone. right?

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Spoken like a true Oiler fan. Yes, the Oilers won cups, but wasn’t that back around 10AD. Maybe as an Oiler fan, you can admit the high cost that the city paid to “keep” the Oilers from moving to Seattle. Perhaps the Flames ownership should have built a huge office tower and demanded the city move their employees there as part of a side deal.

      • Stompin Tom

        Keep sucking on those sour grapes kid, I’m no Oiler fan, just telling it like it is.

        There is only room for one team in AB and that’s Edmonton who are destined for more greatness with the best young player in the league and a wonderful new arena in situ. Calgary cannot compete with the Oil even if Bill Gates stepped in with an interest free loan and a bribe to get the number one ping pong ball – Cowtown can’t afford to keep up in todays NHL – solution: move the team stateside and enjoy hockey at Calgary’s level… the Hitman and Heat!

    • Chris Prongers Rake

      Your funny, maybe adding a ~ at the beginning and end of your comment will make if obivious to the nitwits at Flamesnation that you are being sarcastic.

  • First Name Unidentified

    I have never voted in the municipal elections but this time i am not only ensuring that all the votes in my household count, i am also motivating as many as 60 other voters to make sure Nenshi is kicked out of the office this time. Please!!

    • Flames5295

      Do you seriously want the tax paying citizens of Calgary to front the money for this arena so that the billionairs that own them, get all the profits at no charge? You are completely insane. They are a private coorpaeration trying to use the emotional attachment of Calgary flames fans, to rip away millions of dollars I taxes, so they in turn can reap the biggest portion of the profits and not have to pay it back. Common man. Give your head a shake.

      • First Name Unidentified

        All you communists should go live in Cuba, Venezuela, N.Korea, etc and will find out the real taste of life. Wait, i bet you are a government employee.. so basically your T4 is made up of taxes paid by people like me. How about that?

        • McRib

          Weird, because the most communist thing of all of this for me is the Flames trying to manipulate an election. Hahaha. Honestly do they think they’re in Putins Russia? Not going to happen this has only strengthened Nenshi’s reasonable Victoria Park proposal. The times have changed in Alberta, millennials like myself and millions of others who have moved to this province the last decade or two aren’t just going to blindly vote for conservatives anymore.

          Call us socialists (I’ve been to Sweden, Germany, etc this just makes me laugh), communists whatever you like, the times they’re a changing. People require more from governments in this province now other than the blind rhetoric of “you have to vote conservative, they’re the only option”. The old boys club is dead, Ken King just hasn’t figured that out.

        • Christian Roatis

          The “communist” (more accurately, left) side of this is to give taxpayer dollars to this. The sentiment to not publicly fund this arena is conservative. Get your politics right if you’re gonna wave them around.

          • class1div1

            New Age Politics Christian.There are equal amounts of fascists and nazis in either left or right rhetoric.One group is as selfish as the other and the line between the two is blurred.

    • Flames5295

      Do you seriously want the tax paying citizens of Calgary to front the money for this arena so that the billionairs that own them, get all the profits at no charge? You are completely insane. They are a private coorpaeration trying to use the emotional attachment of Calgary flames fans, to rip away millions of dollars in taxes, so they in turn can reap the biggest portion, or if not all of the profits and not have to pay it back. Common man. Give your head a shake.

      • loudogYYC

        Please stop, the “billionaire subsidy” argument is overused with zero context being considered.
        The city will roll out the red carpet with tax breaks and secret perks for any notorious company who may consider moving to Calgary, will gladly pay $5M for a feasibility study of hosting a $2.4B, 14 day event, will build bridges, pathways, bike lanes and artwork with next to zero public consultation yet the most notorious Calgary institution is being unfair. Ken King and crew are far from perfect little victims but seriously…

        This is flat out childish, capricious, and totally unprofessional behaviour coming from City Hall and it all simply reeks of butthurt personal vendetta.
        The actual tax cost to Calgarians, if we end up incurring any of course, will be less than we pay for green plastic waste bins on wheels which I feel won’t be used as much as we’re told they will (please correct me if I’m wrong, I’d love to see the numbers). Still though, we don’t seem to care because being green is more acceptable than being logical.

        Just imagine, had Calgary never had an NHL team and one became available in 2017, what kind of song and dance do you think Nenshi or any other vote-hungry politician would put on to look like a champ? This whole negotiation is in a different league than we’re all used to seeing so at the very least I want to see participants who belong in it. I no longer think Nenshi does.

    • Denscafon

      and what will the new mayor do? Give King whatever he wants? There are only 2 things that will come out of that. 1)Property/city taxes will go up to pay for this or 2) Major city services will have their budgets cut and quality of service will go down (longer wait times, pay cuts etc). Have fun with those options to give money to a handful of owners.

      • Old Goat

        Check your tax bill since Nenshi got elected. Shocking increases with sharply reduced services ie plowing in your driveway after you’ve just shovelled it. Many other examples. Flames aren’t saints but with this mayor and council maybe they could water the millions of feet of bike paths and play there

    • nikkomsgb

      He’s an employee… his job is to be the voice of the ownership. I don’t get the Ken King hate.

      Do you hate him when they announce that $400k was raised for charity last night at a Flames foundation event? He’s a marionette. This is down to Flames ownership and city council.

    • Parallex

      Yeah. I mean really what is the city asking for here… that when they make an investment in a private enterprise that they get a return on it. The horror, the horror.

      • Howedy

        I guess that depends if the Flames are like every other thing the city invests money in and doesn’t get paid back in full and stand to benefit directly from in other ways. I guess it would mean Nenshi is treating this situation as a chance to play hardball. If he gets re-elected, Calgary doesn’t really deserve the Flames and you can all just sit around looking at the blue ring on Saturday night moving forward I guess.

  • Rubystar

    It would absolutely break my heart if the Flames left Calgary. They do so much for the community with charity work, I can’t imagine being the one to tell these kids that are being helped through these charities, that the programs are ending because the adults can’t get along and come together on a fair deal for everyone. Try telling a little kid who is dying from cancer, who loves the Flames, that gets help from these programs, that the money is gone because the mayor doesn’t like the owners and vice versa. The Flames are more than just millionaires owned by billionaires, they are an integral part of the community. Something to be proud of at the end of the day. It’s why we’re happy when they win, and sad when they lose. I was young when it happened, but I remember going down to the red mile with my friends in 2004 after Calgary beat Vancouver in the first round. It was a magical experience, 30 thousand or more people all celebrating together, hugging, high-fiving one another, we were all so proud at that moment, it was amazing. The later rounds of the playoffs things starting getting out of hand, but that first gathering was magical. I don’t remember seeing twenty thousand people celebrating the new lrt expansion, or twenty thousand people showing up for one of those hideous art unveilings, but I do remember twenty thousand or more celebrating that day. Come on Calgary, let’s not allow these politicians and millionaires destroy something loved by so many. The city will build a new arena someday, they have to if they plan on bidding for the Olympics, so let’s make sure it’s the home to the team we love.

    • Kevin R

      It is sad to see so many posters not looking at what the value the Flames are to this City & the role they have in our community. Well, I just wonder if things go the way of our defiant Mayor & the Flames actually leave, then what:
      -yaaay we didn’t spend any taxpayer money, see ya later Flames, goodriddens rich boys
      -no need for Flames sites or Flames Nation, we can become fans of wherever the team moves to or maybe become Oiler or Leaf fans, read stories in the Sun & Herald about the impact of losing our professional hockey team, but that’s Ok, our Mayor stood up to the rich boys
      -2 terms later & we finally get a new Mayor because everyone will be tired of all the money spent on bike paths, designated bus lanes & new artsy bridges, a new Mayor may be motivated to get a major professional sports franchise, so lets get an NHL team, this City deserves one. Requirement, a new building. The economic impact would be huge for Calgary, so back to square one where we are at today. Big difference is today we have an NHL franchise. The day we were awarded the Flames was a phenomenal day. I was so excited as a fan & proud of this City.

      The thing is, there is no sides, so what if the owner is a billionaire, I’m sure he didn’t do it on being an NHL franchise owner. So what if players make whacko amounts of money. So do actors, should Hollywood run them out of town? Having a professional hockey team is a huge asset to this City in many many ways. Do a deal, we need all the parties at the table to make this happen & I have zero faith Nenshi is the guy to represent the City in these negotiations.

      • Newbietwo

        How can Nenshi be the guy to truly represent the identify of Western Canada Calgary? Look at him he’s never played hockey for a minute in his life.. he has no idea what hockey or the Flames mean to this city.. Nenshi represents very little of what the average Calgarian is

      • McRib

        No one is leaving, the Flames are one of the Top. 10 most profitable franchises in the NHL. Stop letting grease ball Ken King worry you. If they did leave another franchise would move here and would take Nenshi up on his purposed Victoria Park offer in minutes of the Flames leaving (it’s honestly crazy that Nenshi of all people purposed the most vibrant location for this team). Carolina is loosing $20+ Million a year.

        The absolute most hilirous thing about all of this is it seems like the Flames are using Seattle as a potential destination to leave and the arena project purposed by them has ZERO public money committed and the Flames if they chose that rink would get zero concert money, etc. Not going to happen. I spend a lot of time in USA, Americans are now vehemently opposed to publicly funding arenas, even more so than Canadians. There is nowhere the Flames can go outside of Quebec City and get an arena paid for (I believe Quebec was also privately funded), but Quebec City is a market half the size of Calgary with one tenth the corporate sponsorship money. It’s not going to happen. Treliving & Co didn’t become billionaires by leaving good situations for far less profitable situations.

        If Nenshi is re-elected they will start back up the negotiation process and will start to talk about his purposed Victoria Park deal, which actually sounds like a great starting point if anything.

        All the Flames trying to do now is manipulate an election, which is fairly unethical if you ask me.

      • supra steve

        In essence, any money the city/province throws in goes to subsidize paying the Flames employees. Some of those employees make obscene amounts. That should be reason enough for the city to balk at getting very deep into the financing of a Dome replacement.

  • The age of the Flames owners: 86, 72, 81, 94, and Edwards is the young gun at 57. These old farts are too senial to know what they want anymore. Their families are probably wanting to them to pull the plug, take their money and enjoy their remaining days! The group is absolutely posturing and hoping they can make a case to sell the team. Actually, what better time to sell to Seattle? The Flames are on the rise, and viable buying cities are few. If Quebec and Seattle were granted expansions, who’d actually want to buy the Flames?

  • nikkomsgb

    There is no way a deal will ever get done if the city insists the Flames pay the full amount of the arena.

    I can agree that as a business proposition, public money into an arena isn’t a profitable venture. There really isn’t any arguing that. However, no ownership group that even remotely cares about P/L will ever fully finance an arena in a city of 1.3 million, with no other substantial metropolitan population outside it’s borders and only one Major tenant.

    Arenas in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto were privately financed, because they could pay for themselves. Their populations are at least double that of Calgary’s, and in the case of Montreal and Toronto many times Calgary’s when you use a radius of 100km.

    I’ll also note that yes the Flames own the hitmen and roughnecks, and that does mean the building is in use many nights of the year. However those are minor tenants in terms of their $$ at the gate.

    As for taxpayers getting screwed…we get screwed every which way arena or not. Half Million here for sticks and stones art, $250 million there for a vanity library, 5 billion for a transit line that doesn’t service a large chunk of the city and keeps getting costlier by the day. Arena or not, council will find a way to dig deeper into your pocket for something you likely don’t want.

  • cjc

    This may come as a shock to some, but there are plenty of cities both north and south of the border that don’t have an NHL team (or a pro team) and do just… fine? I love hockey, but it’s one small part of living in the city. Losing a team would suck, but at the end of the day would not affect my choice to live there. I wonder how many others (especially non-hockey fans) would feel the same? I just don’t get the rabid fans who would weep inconsolably if they lost their team, so they’re willing to turn a blind eye to something that would be a bad deal for their city.

  • Just facts

    I’d like Nenshi gone as much as anyone and I’d like to see a new arena but many posters here would be horrible negotiators with the Flames on behalf of our tax dollars. The Flames have very little leverage here; their net earnings are already in the top 10 in the league, with many franchises actually losing money. They’d need to find a new arena, with a better deal than they can get here and with revenues/earnings that would exceed what they get here. Good luck with that. Even in the highly unlikely circumstance that they did move, there would be a lineup of poorer financially performing franchises looking to relocate here. Also the revenue from the Canadian markets is now key for the league as a whole so the league, as much as the Count tries to say otherwise to leverage the city, does not want to lose a key Canadian market. He’s spent years keeping Phoenix afloat, doubt he’d let Calgary move. From my recollection the reported deal parameters are much like the final resolution in Edmonton. There should be a deal to be had here, and the current posturing can be put aside post election and a deal done. No need to panic now.

    • Newbietwo

      Let me remind you that the US has 350 million people and that Calgary has what 1.2 million? Let me also remind you that the corporate money the flames have been relying on for years is now drying up along with oil prices and let me also remind you half of our downtown is now vacant..

      Now let me also remind you that Nenshi has been a mayor for a number of years.. that a business owner sued him for defamation and that Nenshi initially used tax payer money to pay his legal fees only to then bend the rules on tax receipts to raise funds to pay it back..

      Let me also remind you that business in Calgary absolutely to the bone dislikes Nenshi and that business owners employee people and drive growth..

      Let me also remind you of his viral Uber spat and that 11 Ave and 12 Ave is deadlock traffic for bike paths seldom used fully..

      Let me also remind you that taxes debt and expenditures have only gone up and significantly.. That there are articles of businesses moving to Saskatchewan for tax breaks but ultimately because they were sick of dealing with our council..

      Now let me also remind you that Nenshi is a cloated Vancouverite pretending to be a calgarian and that he likes all things metrosexual and that he would love for all calgarians to live in a condominium..

      This mayor albeit good intentions has hurt more than benefit us in the last four or so years at the very least and his management on this is a perfect example of his absolute inability to bring together effectiveness..

      It’s time folks.. mic drop

  • Raffydog

    They will waste your tax dollars no matter what, it’s what politicians do. They probably wasted 20000 of your tax dollars before you even got up this morning. So why not waste it on something people can enjoy

    • supra steve

      I have enjoyed every experience I’ve had at the Saddledome. From my first live Flames game in 1984 (Montreal Canadiens) to the Eagles (Hell Froze Over) to Fleetwood Mac to the 2015 playoff run. I personally don’t need a new building to continue to enjoy events.

      Speaking of Montreal, their building is already 20+ years old, how long till we start to hear calls for a new structure in that city? Where do the demands for newer/better/more end?

  • OYYC

    Just a heads up. Rumour has it there’s an algorithm built into fabric of the internet that will crash every computer within a 100 mile radius (that’s 160.9344 kilometers for you youngsters) of Calgary if a particular cluster of words appears on a page at the same time.

    Nenshi, green, rolling CF%, BoA, artwork, Jaromir Jagr, bike paths, billionaires, iCF60, taxes, honey badger, spoiled, bubonic plague, and Feng Shui are rumoured to be on the list. Let’s be very careful out there people.

  • Flamer

    I don’t think you should have reported this. Strictly a rumor. It’s ok to report rumors regarding player movement etc., but this is not the same. From what I’ve read the issue is mayors campaign statements are a surprise and not something that was discussed with flames ownership.

  • Looking at the anonymous source details … Half the owners are of the age that they could die while repaying the building loan. Their estate would still owe a substantial amount of money. What a mess for their heirs. Seriously, I think the owners want a no strings attached deal. The 81, 86, and 94 year old owners can’t be blamed for rejecting the city offer. Dying and having my heirs carry the debt of my last business transaction seems a reasonable reason to drop the whole Calgary Next area plan.

  • Stu Cazz

    I suspect the report is not accurate. Land contribution, revenue sharing are only the start of many factors that are likely part of the negotiations and not mentioned here……

    • The Doctor

      You’re right that that is just one aspect of what would be a complex, multifaceted agreement. There are a lot of different ways to get to yes in a negotiation like this.

  • Walt Whitman


    If the owners genuinely care about hockey
    If the owners genuinely care about Canadian hockey
    If the owners genuinely care about Canada
    They would know the best thing to do is continue the strength of roots already planted
    Trees rarely survive in new environments

    At a time when a Canadian team has not lifted the cup in the lifetimes of many NHL fans, moving an accelerating team to another country is brutish, cruel, and feeble.

    Owners concerned about passing debt on to their heirs? Considering the profitability of a team such as Calgary and a new arena in which they would own profits to all events through that space, the debt would be paid off fairly quickly.

    Also, in case anyone ever forgets this: you can’t take anything with you when you die.
    And in the end, everyone will find their time.