Gary Bettman picked the wrong candidate
Generally, sports owners walk the tight rope between personal political ideology and reality when it comes to looking for money to build a new or renovate an old building from elected officials. In Calgary that dance has become more complicated now that the man that both the National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Flames owners wanted to see lose last week’s mayor election won. Naheed Nenshi won re-election and that has been received as the worst news possible for the ownership. Nenshi has not exactly been a friend to the Flames ownership, a group that is seeking a new arena for the National Hockey League team. Calgary elected officials and Flames ownership had been sparring over a project called Calgary Next which would have required municipal funding for an arena, a Calgary Stampeders football facility and other sports venues.
In September, the Flames ownership group threw in the towel and decided to walk away from Calgary elected officials and said they were going back to the old arena and that was it. Of course, in sports no owner ever walks away from the table stomping his or her feet and says I am not talking to you about you spending money for my factory ever again. But Flames owner Ken King does have to return to the bargaining table with Nenshi if he hopes to get any money and he does so with a weaker hand. Calgary voters liked Nenshi and his policies. Bettman allegedly tried to get involved in the election by finding Flames and new arena friendly media and handing them tidbits such as the Flames would move if Nenshi was re-elected according to Jen Gerson of the Canadian based National Post. Flames ownership allowed Bill Smith for mayor ads within the arena. Teams allegedly are apolitical. Owners can take political stances but they would prefer the players didn’t. In Calgary there is considerable fence mending needed.
Could the Calgary Flames franchise relocate?