City of Calgary hoping to revive arena talks with Flames
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The City of Calgary wants to clean the slate.

After talks between the city and the Calgary Flames on a new arena project went sideways in September, some councillors have begun efforts to renew negotiations with the hockey club.

Led by councillor Jeff Davison, and sponsored by a strong majority of Calgary council, a motion will be filed in hopes of renewing talks with the Flames. The motion does not require the support of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, one of the loudest voices in the last round of failed negotiations.

The motion, which could come forward as soon as a council meeting next month, will establish a committee to negotiate with the Flames.

"We've got to start from some point and I believe, as city council, it shouldn't be us sitting around waiting for business to engage with us," said Davison, as per Sammy Hudes of the Calgary Sun. "We should be going out there and actively engaging with business and trying to make this happen.

"I'm not interested in playing a game of 'he said, she said.' What's important is that (negotiations) broke down and that I think there's a way forward. There's a social and economic benefit in seeing the team here over the long term and what the organization brings."

Davison added that he's leading the charge to renew arena talks in an effort to retain the Flames in the city. While the franchise has not directly threatened relocation, the Flames have said the team can only remain at the Scotiabank Saddledome for as long as it is feasible.

Flames President Ken King has stated the Flames would not issue threats, but instead just simply leave. Meanwhile, Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke took it one step further last June, when he floated the possibility of the franchise uprooting to Quebec City.

"The reality is it's a possibility in the near future the team could leave," fellow Councillor Ward Sutherford, who sponsored the motion, told Rick Bell of the Calgary Sun. "To not come back to the table for a second time would be a disservice to everybody - to Calgarians and to the Flames."

The Flames have played out of the Saddledome since 1983. Today, it's the league's oldest arena, outside of New York's Madison Square Garden, which underwent a recent $1-billion renovation. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has referred to the Saddledome as a "grand old building," but one that is antiquated.

"In the short term, nobody should doubt the Flames' or their ownership's commitment to the community," Bettman said in September. "But at some point, I envision without a new building there will be consequences that everybody is going to have to deal with."

That same month, King added the Flames have become a recipient of revenue sharing, likely in part to the franchise's inability to generate new revenues in a facility competitive with other NHL markets.

The team eventually walked away from negotiations, claiming the city did not have a genuine interest in an arena project. Prior to leaving talks at a standstill, the two sides released their proposals for public consumption.

The Flames offered to fund $275 million of an arena project, with the remaining $225 million coming from a community revitalization levy generated from a surrounding arena district.

Meanwhile, the city's proposal was split into thirds, with $185 million each coming from the city, team ownership, and a user-based ticket surcharge. However, the Flames claimed the city's offer would in fact see the Flames fund the entire project as, in part, it considers ticket fees as part of team revenue.

On talks of the possibility of negotiations reopening, the Flames issued a statement, as per Meghan Potkins of the Calgary Herald, "Based on what has transpired to date, we have no basis on which to believe anything has changed with respect to a new arena. If the reports are true, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the city decides to do."

City of Calgary hoping to revive arena talks with Flames
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