The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation is no longer pursuing a hockey arena deal with the City of Calgary, CSEC President and CEO Ken King said Tuesday.
King made the shocking announcement after speaking with other NHL owners and the league.
“They’ve been spectacularly unproductive meetings and it’s unfortunate,” he said of ongoing talks with the city. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to get there and I think it’s time that we stopped pretending.”
The move puts the future of the Flames in serious question as King has said in the past that a new arena was critical to the team being competitive and raises speculation the team could move.
But King would not comment on the future of the team in Calgary.
“We’re not talking about relocation, we’re talking about training camp,” he said.
The two sides have mostly been discussing the city’s Plan B option of a new arena on the Stampede grounds, with the Flames original CalgaryNEXT proposal being put on the backburner.
A city report had previously said CalgaryNEXT would not be economically feasible.
The news comes with the municipal election just over a month away and a day after Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi laid out a redevelopment policy that included an arena as a cultural hub.
But Nenshi has been adamant that a new arena would have to make sense for taxpayers and when asked Monday if an arena is absolutely necessary for his vision, he said it wasn’t.
Nenshi is expected to comment Wednesday.
The Flames and the NHL say they were willing to give a more than fair contribution to the Victoria Park option, but the city still refused.
However, it isn’t clear how much money each side was willing to pay.
“He (Nenshi) does not see and perhaps others, of his colleagues, do not see the merit and the response that we had to being invited here and listening to their options and providing our considerations and he’ll deal with that in whatever way he deal with,” he said.
King was joined by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in Calgary.
“At some point, I envision without any building, there will be consequences that everybody’s going to have to deal with,” he said, however he also wouldn’t comment on the long-term future of the team.
Bettman also questioned the City of Calgary’s commitment to wanting a deal.
“I don’t get a sense from the city that there’s a commitment to or a belief in the importance of having the right infrastructure of having a major league sports team,” he said. “I don’t see the same level of city commitment here that I’ve seen in other places.”