Flames' prez turns up heat for new rink

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

Officials of the Calgary Flames are turning up the heat on the need for a new NHL arena, saying the team will need new digs within the next decade.

Team president Ken King said yesterday the club needs to keep up with the times, which includes ensuring the Flames take to the ice in a state-of-the-art facility.

The team's current home, the 22-year-old Saddledome, is the seventh- oldest rink in the league.

"We all know and appreciate at some point we're going to have to replace this building," said King, envisioning the Flames needing new digs within the next decade.

"We're serious about making sure we secure the future before we run into a time when we have a crisis with an aging infrastructure and then are behind the eight-ball."

Chief among reasons for constructing a new barn is the need to enhance revenue streams, which King said are severely limited playing out of the Saddledome.

Erecting a multi-purpose building is one way to score more dollars, although King added the inclusion of a football stadium wouldn't work.

And the cost of such a world-class facility would likely run more than $250 million, added King.

Back in the early '80s, the construction cost of the 20,035-seat Saddledome was about $70 million.

By comparison, Toronto's Air Canada Centre, which opened in 1999 with 18,800 seats and 153 luxury suites, cost a Canadian-high $265 million.

And the latest NHL building constructed was in 2003, when Glendale Arena outside Phoenix opened its doors to 17,653 spectators at a cost of $180 million US.

"Who pays the bill is a key consideration," said King, who's consulted with financial experts about funding such a venture.

"It's a public facility, so I think you could conceivably have a combination of private and public funding."

Public money was used to fund the Saddledome's construction, and its $37 million worth of renovations in the mid-90s was a public-private partnership project, while Toronto's arena used little government subsidy.

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1961- Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena

1968 - New York's Madison Square Garden

1972 - Long Island's Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum

1974 - Edmonton's Rexall Place

1979 - Detroit's Joe Louis Arena

1981 - New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena

1983 - Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome


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