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Flames will not pursue new arena in Calgary

Future of team uncertain after talks with city end

NHL.com @NHL

The Calgary Flames will no longer pursue a new arena in the city, president Ken King said Tuesday.

"The owners group are pretty clear, pretty definite, on their view on that," King told the Flames website. "The building's very important. We've been working on it for a long time. But it doesn't look like we're going to get there. And I think it's time we stopped pretending and we're a little honest with our fans and our city on that fact."

Talks stalled when Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi balked at spending taxpayer money on a new building, Sportsnet said.

"We'll just go on and run our business and do what we can to figure out what the future will look like later," King said.

He said the Flames are not actively seeking a new home.

"We're not talking about relocation. We're talking about (upcoming) training camp," King said. "We're not shopping."

Scotiabank Saddledome has been the Flames' home since it opened in 1983. It is the oldest current NHL arena that has not been renovated.

After Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said the team would move without a new arena, King on June 7 said, "We remain committed to our dialogue with the city and [are] very optimistic we will get to a positive conclusion."

Video: No new arena in the near future for the Flames

King said moving was an option in a letter to fans posted to the Flames website this April 2.

"In response to a question, 'Are you going to use the threat of moving as a tactic?,' I said we would not. I also said we would just move," King wrote. "The facts are, we need a solution, and if it is deemed that there is no made-in-Calgary solution, we will have to make a decision at that time, which logically could include deciding to move the team. It is merely one out of a few possible outcomes if we are unable to reach a deal with the city that will work for both sides."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, invited to Calgary by team ownership for his input, said Tuesday the team has done its part.

"Based on what I know of the negotiations, which is extensive, the ownership of the Flames has made a generous, realistic, fair assessment of what can be done, and their commitment goes into the hundreds of millions of dollars," Bettman said. "But if you don't think having a new arena or having a major league hockey team here is important, then you're not going to commit the resources on behalf of the city.

"I'm not here on a soap box preaching. The city council and mayor will decide whatever they want, and that's what they're empowered to do."

In August 2015, the Flames unveiled CalgaryNEXT, an $890 million plan for a hockey arena, covered football stadium and multisport field house in Calgary's West Village. The city deemed that unfeasible, King said in his letter, and a Victoria Park project was advanced in its place.

"I don't know what the long-term future holds, but I know these are people who went through difficult times 15-20 years ago that have hung on," Bettman said. "But I think that there's a resignation that there's no ability to get a new building in this market, so they're going to stop trying.

"In the short term, nobody should doubt the Flames' ownership's commitment to this community. But at some point, I envision that without a new building there'll be consequences everybody's going to have to deal with."

Nenshi said Wednesday he was surprised by the Flames' decision and that the city is still willing to reach a deal.

"I want to be clear about something: The city has always negotiated in very good faith here and we remain at the table, we remain ready to negotiate in good faith," Nenshi said. "[The city] council understands the importance of the Flames to this city, council understands the importance of having the Flames downtown."

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