Millions: Calgary to follow Edmonton’s suit?

Scotiabank Saddledome.
May 20, 2013, 11:04 AM

Now that it seems the City of Edmonton is finally going ahead with a much needed new multi-purpose arena that will eventually house the Oilers, what, if anything, will Calgary do to respond?

After all, playing second fiddle to the provincial capital never seems to go down that well.

If rumours have any substance, we may know very soon. Quietly, there is talk that some concepts will be revealed within the next two months. Yet, as wildly complex as the Edmonton scenario played out this one could be worse.

Calgary Flames Enterprises Ltd. not only owns the NHL team, but the CFL Stampeders, WHL Hitmen and NLL Roughnecks. It is the footballers that have added to the questions.

A study done recently indicated venerable McMahon Stadium has but a timeline of 10 years before massive renovation, or perhaps a brand new building.

Scotiabank Saddledome, while still very workable, has some deficiencies. Age is one of them, structure design that while unique, puts unwanted limitations on its usage. Most notable are a number of high-profile concerts that have been unable to play the Saddledome.

So, what does it all mean? It could mean the first Sports Complex in Canada with a new state-of-the-art home for the Flames and a newly constructed Stampeder facility — that of the ilk of Philadelphia or the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City.

If indeed there is truth to the idea, then it would seem likely any ties to the Calgary Stampede would be come to an end. Size of area needed would be compromised. Furthermore, in fan forums conducted by the Flames in the past, some comments have indicated there could be an appetite to separate from the Greatest Outdoor Show on earth.

Also, the city’s current Mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has indicated any new sports facilities of a professional calibre are not on the agenda. Certainly, at best not a priority.

Toss in a provincial government that has made one wonder where any dollars would come from and the political concerns grow.

So is this a pipe dream for Calgary, or perhaps a pipeline? As in Petroleum, or at least private funding from the offshoots of Alberta’s biggest revenue generators. No one is foolish enough to think, there would be that much appetite, from oil and gas or the private sector in general. Yet, if it could happen, Alberta’s private business would be one of the few jurisdictions that might make it happen — with help from their friends.

Regardless, the Flames and partners have done a masterful job of keeping plans quiet. One wonders if that is coming to an end. After all, finishing behind Edmonton in the standings is one thing. Placing second in the Wild Rose Province as the most progressive city is a whole different matter.

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