Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke was pretty blunt when asked about the Scotiabank Saddledome: it’s clearly the second-worst arena in the NHL, just behind the Nassau County Coliseum.
It’s no secret the Flames would love to see a new arena, particularly with one under construction in Edmonton. When the new Oilers arena opens in 2016, Edmonton will have a state-of-the-art facility; meanwhile, Burke says, Calgary will have state-of-the-art facility circa 1988.
Of course, there’s a little provincial rivalry here; Edmonton and Calgary are competitive on many levels. But it’s also clear that Flames officials are getting a little antsy about the condition of the Saddledome: a large (19,289 capacity) facility with few fan amenities and most of the seats in the upper reaches. From the Calgary Herald:
“A building has . . . to generate NHL economics, which our building does not,” said Burke. “Lower bowl in a new arena — in the new generation of arenas — is 9,000 seats, minimum. Ours is what — 6,000? So we’re not generating the revenue that an NHL building does. The sightlines aren’t as good. They’ve got better suites in the new buildings, better amenities for our season-ticket holders and our fans.
“And, more importantly, the investment in a building and what it brings to a downtown core in terms of entertainment . . . a lot of bands don’t come and play the Saddledome because the building is antiquated. The weight load that the roof will bear is tiny, so a lot of big stage acts don’t come here.
“So it’s not just what a hockey team gets . . . it’s what it does to a downtown core. We need a new building in Calgary.”
And the situation (at least as perceived by Flames officials) is likely to get worst in 2015, when the New York Islanders are scheduled for a move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which will need to be retrofitted for hockey.