Appearing on Toronto’s Prime Time Sports radio show with broadcasters Bob McCown and John Shannon yesterday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman pulled no punches in describing the struggle for Calgary Flames in getting a new arena.
“Calgary’s been very frustrating because the Flames have concluded they can’t make a building deal in Calgary so they’ll hang out and hang on as long as they can and we’ll just have to deal with those things as they come up,” Bettman said.
“I think part of the reason that the Flames have stopped pursuing a new building in Calgary is they don’t see any prospect of making a deal for a new building on terms that make sense,” said Bettman, clearly annoyed with the situation. “And based on my experience up there, I understand why they’ve taken that position,” Bettman said, also admitting that the situation has “been gloomy.”
So, what can we gleam from these comments? Is it merely political posturing for a more favourable deal from local politicians and businesses in Calgary? Or, is the threat of relocation real? Bettman’s admission that the Flames have “stopped pursuing” a new arena in Calgary HAS to be concerning to Flames fans. The Scotiabank Saddledome is the oldest building in the NHL by a longshot and cannot continue to house the team long-term. If a solution can’t be reach in Calgary in the next few years, could it spell the end of the team in Cowtown?