Seattle arena renovation has some in Calgary concerned about plans
City council in Seattle recently approved a $600M cash injection to upgrade a local arena to NHL standards and the plan is turning up the heat for some here in Calgary.
The promotional video in Seattle includes a hockey rink and a basketball court and suggests that once the renovations are done, there could be a place for major teams to play in the city.
Officials approved the funding plan in a 7 to 1 vote and say that a Los Angeles firm will foot the entire bill and toss in another $40M to improve infrastructure and $20M towards a community fund.
Mayor Nenshi is paying close attention to the Seattle deal, saying that it shows there are plenty of options when it comes to nailing down an arena deal.
The arena proposal in Calgary is stuck at an impasse over who should front the cash for the new building.
Anupam Das, an economics professor at Mount Royal University, says news of the Seattle deal will put more pressure on the Flames organization, but doubts either they or the city will budge.
“We are still going through an uncertain economic phase. It’s really difficult for either the city or the private companies to make a firm decision that we will spend all the money.”
Ken King told the media in the summer that they would no longer pursue an arena deal with the city and even went as far to suggest that the Flames could move away if a deal isn’t made soon.
That’s a concept that leaves a bitter taste in many Calgarians’ mouths.
“The Flames are part of the city, part of the culture. It would be sad to lose them,” said one man.
“I think definitely the Flames organization and Ken King need to step up a little bit more,” said another.
Nenshi, meanwhile, isn’t concerned about the possibility of the franchise pulling up stakes here.
He says Calgary is far too lucrative for the NHL to abandon for an untested market like Seattle.
The arena developments come at the same time as Forbes released its rankings of the value of NHL teams.
On it, Calgary sits in 19th, valued at $430M. The team is behind franchises like Minnesota, St. Louis and, most notably, the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
The New York Rangers are the most valued team at $1.5B.
(With files from Kamil Karamali)