Calgary Politicians Looking For More Money For A Hockey Arena

The NHL Flames ownership hoped to open the arena by 2024.

It’s back to the smokeless back rooms as Calgary elected officials and the owners of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames franchise try to figure out how to pay for the construction costs of a new arena. The construction was scheduled to start in August with a 2024 completion date. That is all up in the air because of what is called budgetary issues. In 2019, the city and the team owners agreed to a plan that would split the cost of the projected $550 million Canadian cost of the building. More money is needed for the project and someone is going to have to pick up the tab. Earlier this year, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation put out a statement saying “there is a difference in the current budget estimate and the program requirements for the facility.” Flames’ owners were pushing city elected officials  to fund a building for years. Flames’ ownership wants a revenue generating arena but needed to get some public loonies from the city to subsidize the building’s project cost. The team continues to use the city owned Saddledome which opened in 1983 and lacks all of the revenue producing gadgets newer buildings offer.

In 2017, the Flames’ ownership threw in the towel and decided to end talks with Calgary elected officials and said they were going back to the old arena and that was it. The owners would move the franchise but cooler heads prevailed and the two sides spoke again.  Of course, in sports no owner ever walks away from the table stomping his or her feet and says I am not talking to you about you spending money for my factory ever again. Two years later, the two sides reached an agreement to build an arena. But the two sides have hit a speed bump prompting closed door meetings to resolve the issue.

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Calgary Flames goalie David Rittich (33) blocks a shot against Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (88) during an NHL All-Star semifinal game, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)