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Team will respond to city's cost-breakdown with its own

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Flames President and CEO Ken King announced Friday that the NHL team plans on releasing its financial proposal for a new arena next week.

In responding to the City of Calgary's cost-breakdown version announced Friday morning, King said the team's plans for a new home to replace the 34-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome on the Victoria Park site would be ground-breaking.

"It's such a cool concept. It's innovative. It's never been done before. 

"It's less expensive. We're taking about a $500 million building here.

"It's very difficult to do them and have something spectacular. Edmonton, I think, is $630-$650 (million). We've come up with a way to do something particularly Calgary - Can you have your cake and eat it, too?

"Design something that's so great and so innovative that costs less to build but still you don't subordinate creature comforts or safety or security or opportunities.

"I think it's probably getting to be about time (to unveil it), frankly."

Video: Ken King provides more details on arena situation

King refuted a claim Friday morning by the city that its proposal would cover one-third of an original estimated $555 price-tag, with the team picking up another third and the remainder being made up from a ticket surcharge.

The city, King said, wouldn't actually contribute anything because their share of the cost would be paid back in taxes or rent by the team.

"I'm glad they released their position today," said King. "But you're not going to be very surprised that we have a little different interpretation than they do.

"Their proposal has us not only paying for everything but more when you consider incremental taxes. Flames cash comes from Flames revenue. I think we can all agree on that. User fees come from Flames revenue. I think we can all agree on that. And in whatever form they want this payback comes from Flames' revenue, as well.

"So it's all Flames' revenue. And if we thought that model could work, we would've saved everybody a lot of time.

"If we actually did this (city's proposed) deal, it would actually be worse than what we have now. We'd be better off to stay here."

On Monday, after a lengthy period of non-communication between the two sides, Mayor Naheed Nenshi released his election platform which spoke of creating a sporting, cultural and entertainment complex in the city-proposed Victoria Park area which, he said, would ideally include a new arena.

King interpreted that to mean perhaps the city was prepared to do a deal.

"It was very clear,'' he said the next day, "they were not."

So the Flames, seeing no way around the lengthy impasse, announced Thursday that negotiations were at an end.

King said no talks have been held since July 31.

At that time, he said: "We expressed our position to them. We expressed our frustration. And we surrendered. That was the word I used - we 'surrender.'

"So this mythical (bargaining) table that we're supposed to be at hasn't existed since that day, July 31. We haven't met since. The only thing that happened this week was that we just told the public the same thing.

"If we all know we have an impasse, if we know it's not going to fire, then I think we owe it to our citizens to tell them that."

King is convinced the blueprint the organization plans to announce in short order is the only way forward.

"So next week, when we disclose our position and how we think the city could have (the) substantial incremental payback it has so passionately sought - I don't blame them for that.

"Going forward, I intend, we intend, that every detail is crystal clear to everyone.

"I think there is misnomer that this is a negotiation. This isn't negotiating, about asking for more and taking less. This is what will work. We put forward something that will work.

"We have moved position several million dollars, and I'll explain that next week.

"So depending where you put the pin in the middle, perhaps there is middle ground."


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