Does Calgary Need A New Arena: NHL Says Yes, The IOC Says No

The arena battle gets a different look.



The International Olympic Committee’s road show in South Korea is coming to an end but it never too early to think about another opening, another show in the future. The next available Olympics for cities and countries to show how much they love the Olympics and how many billions they are willing to throw at the IOC is in 2026. Applications need to be into the IOC’s Swiss office soon and Calgary might bid for the event. And if Calgary does go after the Games, the city’s arena has already passed an IOC inspection and that puts the International Olympic Committee at odds with the owners of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who insist that the team cannot survive financially in the long term future without a new building. They also want municipal funding as seed money to build the structure.

Intentional or not, the IOC is giving the green light to a 35 year old building and that has some significance. The prevailing theory was the IOC would suggest that Calgary’s bid needed to include plans for a new venue. And if the IOC wanted the building, it would put pressure on city and Alberta elected officials to come up with funding to help build a 21st century state of the art Calgary arena. In the late 1970s, Calgary wanted an NHL team and the 1988 Olympics. Building an arena was a key component of a plan to land both the team and the Olympics. Calgary approved an arena plan and got both. Calgary ownership wanted the city’s approval to build an arena, a football stadium for the CFL’s Stampeders and an athletic facility and it was shot down by the mayor Naheed Nanshi. The organization got involved in last fall’s mayor election and supported Nanshi’s opponent. Nanshi won.  Calgary Sports and Entertainment and Bettman are regrouping. But the stadium game never ends.