Quebec City mayor: Flames won’t leave Calgary

Posted: 10/06/2017 in NHL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

videotron-centre

There’s no need to back up the moving vans.

That’s because the Calgary Flames won’t load up their pucks and sticks for a relocation to La Belle province, Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume told Eva Ferguson of the Calgary Herald.

“It’s a negotiating strategy. We’re used to it,” Labeaume said Thursday. “Everyone is calm, the Flames will not come to Quebec.”

The quote from the mayor came one day after Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said the team could leave Calgary if it doesn’t get a new arena. Burke doubled down on the stance of Flames CEO Ken King, who in April stated the team wouldn’t just threaten to move, but would simply leave if a new facility in Calgary didn’t come to fruition.

Since 1983, the Flames have played out of Scotiabank Saddledome, which will become the NHL’s oldest arena next season (1968-built Madison Square Garden underwent a $1-billion revitalization in 2013). Two years ago, the Flames launched CalgaryNEXT, an $890-million proposal that includes a new arena for the Flames and a new fieldhouse for the CFL’s Stampeders. Both entities are owned by Calgary Sports and Entertainment.

Speaking before the Canadian Club of Calgary on Wednesday, Burke likened the Flames’ need for a new arena to that of their rival Edmonton Oilers, who this season cut the ribbon on Rogers Place. The Oilers’ arena broke ground in 2014, after owner Daryl Katz floated the possibility of moving the team to Seattle if Edmonton would not agree to build a new home for the hockey team.

The Oilers’ arena cost $480 million, largely funded through public sources. The Flames have proposed a similar arrangement with the City of Calgary, with $200 million paid by the team, with additional funds generated through ticket surcharges. Public funds would cover the remainder of the project costs.

If King, and now Burke, are to be believed, the Flames could leave Calgary if the city balks at a new arena. Questioned by a luncheon attendee about where the Flames could relocate to, Burke responded, “You don’t think we could find a place to go? With a straight face you’re saying that? Quebec. Let’s see, they have a brand new building that meets NHL standards.”

The Quebec capital recently unveiled the NHL-ready Videotron Centre, a facility with 18,000-plus seats that opened its doors in 2015. The arena cost $370 million and was funded entirely by city and provincial taxpayers.

Quebecor Inc. also submitted a bid as part of the NHL’s recent expansion process in hopes of landing a franchise for Quebec City, but was ultimately unsuccessful, with the league choosing to add a team in Las Vegas. Quebec City has not been home to the NHL since the Nordiques uprooted for Colorado in 1995.

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