Calgary Flames: Time to take the Seattle rumors seriously

The Scotiabank Saddledome was completed in 1983 in order to give the relocated Atlanta Flames a sufficient home in Calgary and to host the 1988 Winter Olympics. It has been a successful venue for the Calgary Stampede, the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, and the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks.

There is one small problem with the Flames, however. Unlike the other teams that share the venue, the Flames have to cope with the ever-changing adjustments to the ideal NHL arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins made one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the NHL, and they added touch screens in the luxury suites of Consol Energy Center.

Each added feature raises expectations for future arenas.

While the Flames have made some efforts to keep up with the ever-changing necessities (like the Avison Young Club), the building’s age has caught up with them. The heavily concave roof has limited the total arena space, and the one-level mezzanine set-up has resulted in many logjams getting from Point A to Point B (comparable to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum). Also, the Alberta floods of 2013 did not help the arena’s reputation.

While there is the CalgaryNEXT project planned, it has not been confirmed, so other markets could be on the verge of asking for the NHL franchise. Seattle is the 15th largest market in the United States, and they have plans on building an arena that could spark the return of the SuperSonics and perhaps an NHL franchise. Also, Seattle would remain in the Pacific Division, which would prevent another crazy realignment (I am leaving Las Vegas and Quebec out for now because they might collect an expansion franchise).

Calgary has proven year after year that the atmosphere in the Saddledome is top-notch, but that can only do so much for a business when the arena is poor. With the Oilers and Red Wings making changes, the Flames could be playing games in the worst facility in the NHL in just a couple more years.

Time will tell how much leeway the Flames will get with their incredible fans, but the Saddledome’s age is quickly becoming evident. If a project is not started in the near future, then other markets, especially Seattle, will lick their chops in an attempt to bring the crazy hockey setting into their own backyard.”

Since then, Rogers Place has been a success if you ignore the ridiculous ticket prices that came with it. The Little Caesars Arena will host its first Red Wings game at the beginning of this season.

Yardbarker: NHL

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