NHL commissioner Gary Bettman: ‘We’re all focused on the importance of getting a new event centre in Calgary’
By Ryan Pike8 months ago
For perhaps the first time in this lengthy process, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman feels like all the involved stakeholders have the same goal: a new Calgary event centre. That was the main takeaway from Bettman’s annual visit to Calgary prior to Tuesday’s Flames game with the Boston Bruins, where he visited with the local media to discuss a variety of topics.
As you might expect, the arena (event centre) was a big topic of conversation.
“I met with Flames ownership this morning,” said Bettman. “There was a luncheon here for 300 people; season ticket holders, suite holders, business partners. I had a brief meeting today with the mayor and councilperson Sharp. I would characterize that meeting as very friendly and I think we’re all focused on the importance of getting a new event centre in Calgary.”
Speaking ironically enough on the day the provincial budget was released, Bettman noted that he spoke to Alberta premier Danielle Smith around 3 or 4 weeks ago. While the new building in Calgary wasn’t the primary reason for that discussion, it was something that they chatted about.
Asked to characterize the status of the event centre negotiations, Bettman was upbeat.
“What I’m hearing is the most constructive that I’ve heard in this entire process, which now is maybe a decade long,” said Bettman. “But there’s a lot of work to do because things have gotten harder with the passage of time. Things have gotten more expensive, interest rates are up, but I think everybody’s focused on what needs to be done. And beyond that I don’t want to characterize it. I don’t think that’s constructive to the process.”
The Flames have been discussing a new arena since around 2005, and they’ve been intensively involved in work on a new home building for the hockey club since the Saddledome’s entire lower bowl flooded in 2013. A deal was reached in July 2019, but was dissolved in late December 2021 due to budget concerns. The Flames and the City of Calgary (represented by CAA ICON) have been formally negotiating since October on a new deal.
The only older building in the NHL than the Saddledome at present is Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968 but has undergone several billions of dollars worth of renovations. The Saddledome opened in 1983 and was renovated in 1994 and 1995.
“Everybody involved at this stage I think wants to see the Flames and the City of Calgary have a new event centre,” said Bettman. “I don’t think anybody disagrees on that point right now. And I hope it comes to fruition. But like I said, there’s more work to be done.”
Update: Mayor Gondek sent a statement to various media, including FlamesNation, on Wednesday regarding her meeting with Bettman.
“I appreciate Commissioner Bettman taking the time to talk to those involved in the event centre negotiation process. I echo his comments that constructive dialogue is taking place with all partners focused on a positive outcome. Calgary is a city that has always been built through collaborative efforts such as this. We all agree that we are stronger together and have a unified goal of building a new event centre for the city.”
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