The Calgary Flames currently have the fourth oldest arena in the NHL, but a new proposal hopes to change that. The Flames ownership group unveiled plans for a new complex, a $900 million building that would also house the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, but it could be more than five years before the Flames actually see a new home.
Calgary’s Saddledome is currently the fourth oldest building in the entire NHL, but the Flames don’t plan on being there much longer after unveiling plans for a new arena complex to be built in downtown Calgary. Tuesday evening, the Flames ownership group presented what they’re calling CalgaryNEXT, a $900 million arena which would include a 20,000-seat hockey arena and 30,000-seat football stadium. The football stadium would double as a public fieldhouse. Actually getting the arena in place won’t be an easy process, however.
In order for the stadium to be built, the project will need significant public funding, including the payment of a $250 million ticket tax by fans and a suggested $200 million from taxpayers to go towards the public fieldhouse. “I have said for a long time — and continue to strongly believe — that public money must be for public benefit and not private profit,” said
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi in a statement. “The question for council, the ownership group and all Calgarians is whether this proposal meets that test.” Nenshi did, however, call the arena proposal “intriguing,” and said he was pleased to see Flames ownership come forward with a proposal that included $200 million in funding from the team.
If the arena were to get the go-ahead, Flames president and CEO Ken King said the hope would be that it could open in five years’ time. “At a gallop, if we were to cut the ribbon on a project like this in five years, we’d be very, very happy,”
King told the Calgary Herald. “I don’t know if that’s particularly ambitious, but it’s somewhat ambitious.” King added that if this proposal doesn’t go through, the Flames don’t currently have a backup plan for a new building. The need for a new arena in Calgary stems from the fact that come 2017, the Flames will have the second oldest building in the NHL. Both the Detroit Red Wings’ Joe Louis Arena and Edmonton Oilers’ Rexall Place are currently older than the Saddledome, but Detroit and Edmonton are both expected to have new buildings open by 2017. The league’s oldest building is the New York Rangers’ home, Madison Square Garden. “Is this good for Calgary and is this good for Calgarians? If we come to an affirmative answer, what we will do is get to the starting line of a very difficult, very arduous process to bring this home and to bring it to fruition,” said King. “Nothing good is easy.”