National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman called the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary an “old, antiquated, inefficient building” that “doesn’t hold a candle” to new arenas like Edmonton’s Rogers Place while speaking to local reporters Wednesday.
Fielding questions on whether there’s been progress on a new arena in Calgary, Bettman said he’d met with Mayor Naheed Nenshi for a “cordial, open, candid” conversation earlier in the afternoon.
“I know the relationship with the Flames and the city is very important, as it is with all clubs in all sports in the cities they play,” he said. “I’m hopeful that the city and the Flames can be on the same page so this can move forward as quickly as possible.”
“But it’s more a question of making sure they’re talking the same language, that they’re focused on it in the same way and that there’s no misunderstandings.”
Bettman’s schedule reportedly included a meeting with Ken King, president and CEO of the Calgary Flames, who has been pushing a new arena and sports complex for the city called CalgaryNEXT.
“There’s an ongoing process, discussion, with the city,” Bettman said.
“The key is going to be: what’s the vision for the arena? Where’s it going to be? And how do the economics of it work? And those are things that I know are being worked on.”
When asked the ideal timeline as to when construction on a new arena would begin, Bettman said: “yesterday.”
“I think the new building in Edmonton, for example, is doing a lot more business. Perhaps some of it is now at the expense of Calgary, in terms of concerts and the like. I just want to make sure that long-term, the Flames and the arena are in a position to get their fair share.”
Bettman said Tuesday he hoped Edmonton’s new Rogers Place arena will make it easier to get a new one in Calgary, calling the new facility “inspirational.”
The commissioner called the Saddledome a “grand ole’ building” but bemoaned its many shortcomings.
“These aren’t the facilities that our hockey teams typically have and certainly in terms of events, isn’t what concert promoters, circuses…family shows [want]. This is an old antiquated, inefficient building.
“And in terms of amenities for the fans, which is the most important thing, it doesn’t hold a candle to what has been done in the new arenas.”
The office of Mayor Naheed Nenshi declined to comment on plans for a new arena Wednesday.
Bettman will be in Vancouver on Thursday.