SUN Hockey Pool

King feeling fans' pain

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

Ken King understands the disappointment.

The Calgary Flames president was as downcast as anyone yesterday when the NHL cancelled its season.

Still, King took solace in the reaction from Flames fans -- disappointed but still supportive.

"Our fans told us loud and clear they liked what they saw in the spring of 2004 and they want more success. Intuitively, they understand the need to fix things," King said. "The gauge is running five- or six-to-one in favour of fixing the system and coming back only when it's fixed."

Until then, the lockout will have a huge impact on the Flames.

King said corporate sponsorship for the team was worth "a little north of $10 million" and now expects to lose about two-thirds of that money.

Season ticket sales for the 2004-05 season were at about 14,600, and King said only about 600 have cancelled.

Most fans have decided to leave 10% to maintain their seats when the league returns.

Some have even told the Flames to hold all their money, to have 2005-06 ducats fully paid.

"We have orders for club seats that we can't fill right now because we're sold out," King said.

Still, there will be plenty of contrition needed for fans who've been put through an emotional wringer.

"That will take some work," King admitted.

The Flames expect to lose about $5 million because of the cancelled campaign.

The club's full-time staff -- at 140 before the lockout -- is down to 104, with all of them working on a three-day week for 60% of their salary.

Still, King maintains all the headaches will be worth it if a system that ensures the stability of all 30 teams is built.

"It's immediately obvious the system conspires against teams like ours and keeping and improving our team couldn't be done. Specifically, we could not secure the nucleus of our team," he said.

King said the club would dearly love to raise the Western Conference champion banner.

"And we would really love to get the Red Mile cranked up and enjoy the romance of the playoffs again but that would be inordinately selfish on our part," he added.


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