Monday will be a long day for the owners of the Calgary Flames. Calgary voters go to the polls to elect a mayor and city council members and by Monday night, the Flames ownership should know who will be in office. The incumbent mayor, Naheed Nanshi has not exactly been a friend to the Flames ownership, a group that is seeking a new arena for the National Hockey League team. Calgary elected officials and Flames ownership had been sparring over a project called Calgary Next which would have required municipal funding for an arena, a Calgary Stampeders football facility and other sports venues.
In September, the Flames ownership group threw in the towel and decided to walk away from Calgary elected officials and said they were going back to the old arena and that was it. 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. For what election polling is worth, Calgary residents aren’t too ready to throw taxpayers money into a new Flames facility. In April, Flames Chief Executive Officer Ken King expressed unhappiness with local elected officials’ refusal to help fund the Calgary Next project.
Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke said that the team would be gone without a new building and even suggested a possible landing spot, Quebec City. King immediately contradicted Burke saying Burke is not the organization’s arena negotiating mouthpiece. But King and Burke were reading off the same script.
“There would be no threat to move, we would just move,” King said. “And it would be over. And I’m trying my level best to make sure that day never comes, frankly.”
Flames ownership will be watching the results of the Calgary election and no doubt plotting the next move in the arena game.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.