The Saddledome in Calgary is one of the most iconic venues in all of sports because of its unique design. However, like most classic arenas, the time comes when a building becomes dated and a replacement becomes needed.
The 32-year old Saddledome isn’t the oldest arena currently in use (Madison Square Garden in New York), but that doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t be looking towards the future.
On Tuesday, the Flames unveiled their first plans to replace their current home with a new sports entertainment complex. Known as CalgaryNEXT, this new district will provide a new place for the Flames to play as well as a connected football stadium for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.
The new complex will seat 18,000 in the event center and 30,000 in the fieldhouse. Also part of the project is a hotel and conference center, 20 different residencies, 100 shops and 750 on-site restaurants. The total cost, the Flames say, will be $890 million. As far as paying for the venture, the organization will put $200 million towards it, ask for $200 million from the city itself, $240 million from a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) and $250 million from ticket tax.
In a statement released by the league, commissioner Gary Bettman stated his excitement for the potential new home for the flames.
The Calgary Flames are an exemplary member of the National Hockey League and the NHL is excited to learn that Calgary is taking the next step toward the introduction of a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility for its community and professional sports teams. While this is an extremely important initiative for the team, it is even more important for Calgary’s fans and the community.
As far as the potential start time for this new project goes, that is still to be determined as it’s still in the preliminary planning stages. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi released his own statement about the proposed sports complex.
In his thoughts, Nenshi mentioned that there are “significant requirements” for public money though there is currently no money to spend.
“I have said for a long time — and continue to strongly believe — that public money must be for public benefit and not private profit,” he said. “The question for council, the ownership group, and all Calgarians is whether this proposal meets that test.”
It’s so early in the process that the final decision of the eventual new home of the Flames may not look like the designs that were released this week. However, based on the plan the organization has in place, it’s hard for fans to not get excited about what the future may hold for their city’s teams.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.