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Scotiabank Saddledome Demolition Could be in the Offing

Scotiabank Saddledome

Time could be winding down for the Scotiabank Saddledome, as a planned new Calgary Flames arena will likely render the venue obsolete.

Best known to many as simply the Saddledome, the current home of the Flames in Victoria Park opened in 1983. Perhaps its best known feature architecturally is its saddle-shaped roof, which gives the exterior a distinct look (the photo above shows the arena’s exterior with the Calgary skyline in the background).

However, it has become increasingly obsolete by NHL standards, which had prompted the Flames and city to engage in discussions about a new arena. After considerable back and forth over the last several years, the two sides are now moving forward with plans for a replacement, as the Calgary City Council ratified an agreement Tuesday for a new C$550 million arena in Victoria Park.

Flames ownership and the city will now move forward with planning the new venue, and it looks as though it could render the Saddledome obsolete. More from CTV Calgary News:

It’ll leave a giant saddle-shaped hole in Calgary’s skyline but, despite discussions of possible alternative uses for the arena, the mayor says tearing it down is the right call.

“I’m going to be super sad,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday following council’s vote.

“We don’t really need that second arena. But listen, if somebody out there has a brilliant plan for how to repurpose that building, send them in now,” Nenshi said.

At least one key person behind the planning of the Saddledome appears to be okay with its potential demolition. Barry Graham, who served as lead architect of the arena, acknowledges that he will be sad to see it go, but at the same time realizes that it has served its purpose. More from the Calgary Herald:

“I’ve been around a long time,” said Graham, 80. “So I’ve seen a lot of them demolished. I’ve been in the architecture business for a long time, so it’s part of the world these days. There’s not much you can do about it. They get old and they need to be replaced.”

Graham, who has been retired for about two decades, said the Saddledome has served the Flames and the city well.

“It’s been a pretty good building for the city, I believe,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that these things happen. It’s like anything else. It wears out and it doesn’t suit the needs of what people are looking for right now, so I guess you just tear it down and start all over again.”

It is expected that both the city and the Flames would contribute financially toward demolishing the Saddledome, with Calgary’s C$12.4 million paying the bulk of the cost and the Flames contributing another C$1.4 million. Still, potential demolition of the Scotiabank Saddledome would be several years away. The Flames and city are now aiming to begin construction on the new arena in 2021, following a design and public consultation process, and open the facility in 2024. The Saddledome is currently the second-oldest facility among full-time NHL arenas.

Image courtesy Scotiabank Saddledome.

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