by Andrew McInnis
This playoff season, Flames fans will be heading onto Stephen Avenue to Flames Central, a new one-of-a-kind sports club.
The new club is the brainchild of the Calgary Flames and the Concorde Group, a Calgary company owned by Jim and Victor Choy.
"We're pleased to partner on this North American entertainment first," says Calgary Flames President and CEO
The new sports and entertainment is located in the old Palace Theatre downtown at 219 – 8th Avenue S.W. The theatre was built in 1921 and was commemorated as a national historic site in 1996. More recently it was the Palace Night Club, but the property has been vacant since February 2004.
The Concorde Group has been working hard to renovate, rewire, and re-install brand new heating and air conditioning in the 86-year-old building with a special opening this weekend.
Jocelin King, the sales and marketing manager of Concorde Group, says that the sports club is going for a feel that caters to the corporate and executive set.
"The location is important to the club because it''s in the middle of downtown where nothing like this has ever been," says King. "It gives people who are already downtown after work a place to go to watch the game and enjoy delicious food and drinks with friends."
For those watching the game at the Saddledome, King says the services of four buses have been employed to run them back to Flames Central after every home game.
Flames Central won''t only serve the city as a place to kick back and watch sports, but as a place for
"The club will be available to be booked for private functions, meetings, and business conferences."
The Wildfire Grill, located in the front of the venue, will provide a casual yet upscale dining experience. The Grill has seating for 100 people inside plus another 75 on the front patio that will jut out onto 8th Avenue.
In the heart of the original building lies Flames Central, a sports club on three floors with room for over 1,000 people. It boasts 150 LCD TV''s, and one large 30 by 20 foot projection screen with multiple LCD screens running up each side. A power-ring will run around the second level balcony, a feature that is exclusive to the club.
Flames Central also has a large stage at the back for live music and other entertainment during the off season and non-game nights. It will have built-in theatre style booths for game viewing on the second level, and three private rooms with their own bars on the third level.
Flames Central will be open seven days a week, and the Wildfire Grill will be open weekdays for lunch and dinner.
The club will continue catering to its customers in the off-season months with other forms of entertainment.
"We plan on holding big events during Stampede. The summer months will be filled with things that can''t be done during hockey season," says King.
"We regard booking entertainment the same way the Calgary Flames do, hockey and entertainment are our
The inside of the venue will be decorated with a wide array of sports photos and memorabilia including a display with official replicas of all the NHL trophies.
Gerry Thomas is one of the acclaimed sports photographers working to give the club its stunning visual appeal. He has been the official Flames photographer for the past 14 years, and has been shooting NHL since the late 80''s.
"It''s been a very challenging project because it''s such a unique concept to the Canadian market," says Thomas. "Anyone who is a true-blooded Canadian and exudes over our national pastime of hockey will feel right at home at
Thomas has been working on 3D-like prints for the wall, larger-than-life sized murals that are split into four different panels, and a circular area called 'Centre Ice' which will feature a backlit photo of Flames players lining up on the red line.
Flames Central plans to open their doors in time for an exciting playoff run.
Hockey fans should mark Flames Central as one of the hottest spots to be during the upcoming postseason.
"Watch for the grand opening," says King. "It''s going to be a huge event!"
For more information on Flames Central you can call 9FL-AMES (935-2637).