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Burke calls the Saddledome ’embarrassing’

Jun 6, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames Getty Images

Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke says the team’s arena situation is “embarrassing.”

“There is one building worse than ours,” Burke said yesterday, per the Calgary Herald. “Has anyone been there? Islanders. So we don’t actually have the worst building in the National Hockey League. But we have a state-of-the-art 1988 building.”

The Scotiabank Saddledome actually opened in 1983. Only four current NHL arenas predate it. The oldest, Madison Square Garden (1968), just underwent a massive renovation, while the Islanders are moving to a new arena in Brooklyn in 2015, the Red Wings have plans to replace The Joe, and the Oilers are already building their new downtown arena.

“There’s absolutely no reason why we should watch a new building going up in Edmonton and we’ve got to play in a 1988 building here,” said Burke.

The question, as always, will be, who should pay for it?

From 660 News in Calgary:

Even though the idea of a new rink for Calgary’s NHL franchise is only being floated right now, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation vows to battle any attempts to include public dollars.

The Alberta Director of the CTF tells 660News, while the owner of the Oilers managed to get 10′s of millions of dollars out of Edmonton city council for his new rink, there is no appetite for a similar venture here.

Derek Filderbfandt said Calgary doesn’t have the same corporate welfare culture as Edmonton.

Filderbrandt admits the Flames do need a new arena, but that cash should come from the pockets of the team’s owners.

Related: Calgary mayor cool to funding new arena for Flames

  1. spezzdispenser - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    If they remove Burke from the building it will be slightly less embarrassing

  2. bucrightoff - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    Flames owners can afford the new arena, but of course their goal is to have taxpayers fund it. Usually the owners win in these situations unfortunately.

  3. joey4id - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Joey calls Burke embarrassing. Flames should send him to the Stampede to become a bull riding clown, or a mucker.

    • skr213 - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      Joey talks in third-person now?

      • kaptaanamerica - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:40 PM

        The way it reads is that Joey should be the clown or the mucker…

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      You still upset that he dared to tell it like it is about Bobby Ryan?

  4. govtminion - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    I admit I’m surprised we never heard plans this season crop up to replace the Saddledome- I figured the flooding it suffered would be reasoning enough for ownership to justify needing replacement (whether really true or not).

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:06 PM

      There were actually rumors that they had plans for a new building all ready to go last spring but held off on releasing them once the flooding happened.

      Burke can complain about the building, he’s probably right about some things and the Flames will probably get a new building sooner rather than later, but as far as the guts of the building go (electrical, all of the dressing rooms, anything to do with operations) all of it is brand new, they took everything down to the concrete walls on the outside and rebuilt all of it in less than 100 days last summer after the flood.

      I’m not really in favor of my property taxes going to a new building for a few reasons, but I think there are a few interesting financing options here the likelihood is that it will be build on the Calgary Stampede grounds in cooperation with the Stampede so they could always introduce a new Stampede lottery (they run several each year) where the Stampede’s share of the take goes to the new building. I’d also be in favor of the city introducing a $1 a day tax on all hotel room occupancies and rental car bookings, that would raise quite a bit of money quickly, wouldn’t cost the Calgary taxpayer anything and wouldn’t be enough to discourage tourism.

    • barkar942 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      I heard they have to raise the Saddledome up on stilts, just like the homeowners at the Jersey Shore after Sandy.

  5. 950003cups - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Very soon, the islanders will have one of the nicest state-of-the-art arenas in the league. All they need to do is move that giant Jumbotron towards center ice. Right now it’s behind the blueline because of the NBA set up.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      Just curious if they’ve found a way to use more of the seats or if it will end up being under 15,000 seats for hockey games?

  6. muckleflugga - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    nothing says eastern pencil neck puke as does using the term bull riding clown

    they’re bullfighters to all but complete blithering idiots who know jacks hit about rodeo or hockey for that matter

  7. muckleflugga - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    burke is right, he’s new in calgary … the haircut is the first giveaway … makes you want to dig in your pocket for spare change

    if you weren’t lucky enough to be born here or born in southern alberta by way of default, you’re considered to be just another interloping jackass in need of a map out of town …

    failing access to a map, a noose … sooner than later

    as for a new building for flames, good on those who see need … they and those among the richest men in canada who own flames are welcome to fund the project

    flood remediation is job one in calgary and southern alberta … billions upon billions are needed

    a third rate hockey team and the ninety third positively last appearance of black sabbath and alice cooper are not going to float that boat on the taxpayers’ dime

    calgary has a mayor and city council who are pragmatic and bent on tax reduction … alberta is a provincial election away from electing the wildrose party … a political movement that will make the tea party look like a left leaning profligate

    and an american, from the east yet … telling calgary what it needs … unbelievable

    what’s burke’s neck size …?

    as for needing stilts, too right … the saddle dome was built on a floodplain … the bowl was carved deeply into that floodplain … the ramp leading into the building on the north side was modelled after sluiceway … engineering and architecture at its finest [ brunelleschi weeps ]

    but anyone living in coastal cities thinking they’re immune from flood disaster should look long and hard at storm dynamics and tidal surge after hurricane sandy …

    but do so while understanding the rapid and irreversible melting of the antarctic ice pack is raising the level of oceans by eight to ten feet while dropping water temperature by two to four degrees

    more water under influence of disastrous and unpredictable climate change … to hell with hockey, think infrastructure to deal with innumerable disasters to come

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:46 AM

      Whoa whoa whoa! If you think in any way that Nenshi and his cronies on city council (Druh Farrell being enemy number 1) have any interest in reducing taxes you’re crazy! Nenshi routinely talks about how property taxes “need” to go up 5% a year and the province needs to give him more taxing power, and he claims that all Calgarians are in favor of this based on what his twitter followers tell him, although it should be noted that if anyone disagrees with him on twitter (or anywhere else) he immediately starts to bully them and then ends any sort of debate.

      The big reason he and Farrell and their posse wouldn’t be in favor of giving tax payers money to the Flames to build a new arena is because it would take money away from them wasting it on their pet projects like cycle tracks, big blue hoops that are eyesores, 6 lane tunnels to the airport that weren’t needed and bottleneck into a 2 lane road once you get to the end of it.

  8. luz56 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Let me know how that works out having an owner reach into his pocket for an additional 200M….Flames hit the road Coyotes relocate ….NHL demands new arena before so….

  9. muckleflugga - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:04 AM


    the value of my property in the city was assessed higher than last year as it has every year for the past quarter of a century … the property taxes went down … not much but still a reversal

    anyone who thinks the city of calgary will buy any arena for the flames lives in a dream world … this is not edmonton by any stretch

    the bridge was a boondoggle and is truly ugly but it held up under the flood … the underpass at the airport was needed … what, they should have put a traffic intersection on the new runway

    druh ferrel is a grasping wannabee .. nenshi’s history next time around … a city the size of calgary needs more than one snow plow

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Things seemed to work just fine without the tunnel, no one seemed to have issues getting to the airport, but Nenshi wanted it built and didn’t care how much it cost. I think that’s one of those projects that would have been best just forgetting much like Bronco’s Peace Bridge that you referenced, but it’s built now.

      The Flames will get a new arena, I agree I don’t see property taxes going to it, as I mentioned in a previous post if the city is determined to put money towards the project I’d like to see them do something like put a $1 a day tax on hotel room occupancies and rental car rentals, that would raise money quickly, generally wouldn’t have anything to do with Calgary residents and would have little to no affect on tourism.

      And since the new building is likely to be on the Stampede grounds and the Stampede will likely get use of the building a few times a year they could create money by adding $1 or $2 to the price of admission to the grounds (well over 1 million people go there each year) and they could add another lottery, they have the Kinsmen Car one, and the Dream Home and Lucky Loot which is a cash one, how about “Big 4 Bonanza” where they have a daily 50/50 draw or even 60/40 (people will pay for anything if it means they might get more cash back) with the Stampede’s cash going to a new building?

  10. muckleflugga - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM


    calgary and the federal government are in the process of building the longest runway in canada … it denies all access to the airport from the south and east … the only way in without the tunnel would be from the north, entailing a further drive of eight kilometres off deerfoot trail

    i’m guessing, but you must not use the airport much

    the stampede is basically a tourist trap, or an exhibition for the agriculture industry … i haven’t been at a parade or the stampede itself in forty years … few from calgary bother

    calgary produces the highest tourism numbers in canada, primarily because of winter sport and access to some of the best skiing in the world

    it hardly needs a new arena to bring in stale music acts … who cares … short of jamborees and folk festivals, concerts are basically dead

    video killed the radio star, and the internet and live streaming have nuked live concerts

    the flames are a joke until they prove otherwise … hiring brian burke with his goon-hockey philosophy proved how desperate flames ownership is for something that might interest fans … they missed the target hiring burke

    building an arena to cater to needs of the rich is fine … if they need somewhere to play, these millionaires can quit being the parasites they are, and build their playpens themselves

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Sounds like the glass is always half empty to you. I don’t know why you comment on here when you seem to have such disdain for the team and players. What’s funny is that I remember distinctly you talking about “the future being bright for the Flames” at the end of the season.

      Deerfoot to Airport trail, that’s not that difficult. Otherwise take stoney or Metis trail to Country Hills west and then turn south (can’t remember which street it is) to the terminal. You’re one of the very few people who seems to think Calgary needed to build that tunnel, congratulations on that!

      Your points on who goes to the Stampede are confusing because it doesn’t matter who goes down there they draw about over 1.2 million down to the grounds in those 10 days, whether those are locals or tourists means nothing in the fact that by adding $1-2 per admission you can raise between $1-2 million (accounting for people on the grounds who don’t pay admission), that’s fish in a barrel. They could add an extra $5 surcharge to the idiots who are willing to wait in line for hours and then pay $50 cover fee to get into the d-bag places like Cowboys as well.

      Thanks for the lesson on Calgary tourism, I have zero idea why you brought it up other than to reinforce what I was saying?

      Whether you like it or not the Flames will eventually get their new building, chances are some public money will go towards it (again whether you or I like it or not) so it’s better that they get creative in financing it rather than just using property tax money.

  11. muckleflugga - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:26 PM


    you’re a pedant not unlike joey, unable to concede a point … and you hoard other people’s thought or ideas, taking them out of context after the fact

    the flames’ record speaks for itself, debate over … with gaudereau coming in, there’s hope but not much with burke’s continuing hockey philosophy … for every goon flames ice, other teams ice skill … burke, the itinerant dinosaur unable to read the writing on the wall

    truclence, lmao

    hudler is flames’ best player, but not good enough for detroit to spend any money to keep … he disappears in the playoffs, but you would not know that for reasons evident

    your argument about the stampede is without merit …

    there is no material connection between flames and the stampede board … the stampede would not partner with the flames under any circumstances … it is naïve to suggest the stampede would burden its clientele with further cost with no material return

    you forget the debacle over cost-sharing with the alberta racing commission, ending horse racing in of all places, calgary … the stampede gets the parking concession from the flames, nothing else … it barely breaks even

    only a complete fool would argue there was no need for a tunnel under the new runway … any alternative you’ve suggested involves a minimum of eight extra kilometres of driving north then back into the city … the object of the exercise is to bring the airport closer to the inner city without involving ruinous cab fares

    i would have thought the argument about calgary tourism leading the country through all seasons would have been easily understood but …

    burke, playing the flames’ corporate toad, argues a new arena is needed to make calgary more desirable for shows and concerts, somehow benefitting calgary further … this when the stampede already owns ample space of its own including the roundup centre … this while the city of calgary has several theatres in the core including a convention centre

    how would a set entity such as flames change tourism by allowing their owners to freeload further off the public purse … you live in a dream world if you think public money is going to buy flames a new building … get in touch with current events then talk

    i admire your devotion but your flames are bush league, as is the flames’ organization … more grasping money whores looking for yet another handout, increased equity and corporate welfare rationalized against need to make rich men richer on the backs of john q. public

    dreamers all

  12. nicofthenorthstar - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Thrilled to hear that someone with a loud voice in these matters is speaking out against handouts to millionaires.
    Want a new arena or stadium? We’ll find a spot for you. Tell us how you’re going to pay for it.

  13. oldirtyoiler - Jun 9, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    In Edmonton, we used to call the Saddledome the Prairie Pantyliner… ah, I miss the Battle of Alberta.

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