CALGARY -- Scotiabank Saddledome will remain "Home Sweet Home" for the Calgary Flames this season.
Despite significant damage caused by record-setting floods throughout Southern Alberta in late June that forced more than 100,000 evacuations, the Flames' home arena is expected to be ready when the puck drops for the first preseason game Sept. 14 against the Edmonton Oilers.
"Thanks to [chief operating officer] John [Bean] and Cana Construction and that group, we've got an occupancy permit on Friday," Flames president and chief operating officer Ken King said during Thursday's press conference to announce the hiring of Brian Burke as president of hockey operations. "There's lots of people doing lots of work. The concrete has been chilled for the last couple of days and is working."
Prepping Scotiabank Saddledome for the NHL season has been a massive undertaking.
Once floodwaters from the nearby Bow River were pumped out, engineers conducted tests to ensure the structural integrity of the building. Every piece of equipment at the event level of the 30-year-old arena was replaced after flood waters submerged the entire rink area and first eight rows of seats.
"You'll see new seats, you'll see new glass," King said. "There's things that still have the wrapper on it, that kind of thing. Every piece of equipment below decks here is brand new. Every piece of cutlery, every kitchen. We haven't turned a stove on. We haven't cooked a hamburger or made a piece of toast, but everything is in place to go. We anticipate it will go off really well.
"So we're back in business."
Scotiabank Saddledome will get its first test Sept. 11 with a visit from the Eagles, a six-time Grammy-winning rock band. A hockey-ready rink would let Calgary host its four home preseason games in anticipation of the home opener Oct. 6, when the Flames play the Vancouver Canucks. That thought seemed like a lofty goal in late June when waters breached the rink. The total cost of the damage hasn’t been determined.
"We haven't talked about that very much," King said. "It's a big number in terms of both business interruption and property loss."
Though not to the same magnitude, the Nashville Predators were in a similar situation on May 2, 2010, when nearly 2 feet of water crept into Bridgestone Arena. Flooding entered the control room, locker rooms, coaching offices and storage areas, causing $8 million to $10 million in damage.
The Predators managed to open the 2010-11 season on time. Barring any major setbacks, the Flames expect to do the same.