The Edmonton Oilers are having difficulties getting the level of public funding they desire for their new arena. Elsewhere in Alberta, the Calgary Flames have their own ambitions to build a new home and presumably have the taxpayers pick up some of the bill.
So is the Oilers’ recent saga a sign of things to come for the Flames?
“It has no effect on us,” said Flames president Ken King in a Calgary Sun report.
Maybe not, but the Flames certainly have challenges of their own.
When Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi compared Edmonton’s situation to Calgary’s, he didn’t do so in a light that is likely to encourage the Flames.
“Edmonton has a very, very different context, as they need a revitalization in their downtown, which we don’t need as much,” Nenshi said. As far as he’s concerned it would be “extremely difficult to justify spending very scarce public money on a professional sports arena.”
Nenshi did point out that the Calgary Flames haven’t asked him for public funding — yet.
The bad taste left from Oilers owner Daryl Katz controversial tactics combined with the ongoing lockout might make this a less than ideal time to push for a new arena. However, King has suggested that the Flames’ eventual proposal will include facility housing, which might make it easier to secure public funding.
In addition, the Flames ownership does have the respect of the current Mayor.
“I think the ownership of the Flames are very decent, honourable people,” said Nenshi. “They’re not out to screw the public.”
King said that when the time is right, “there will be more dialogue with the city and with the public” about their plans.