'Dome improvement

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:24 AM ET

The home of the Calgary Flames may be up for another facelift, says the NHL team's president.

Ken King said yesterday the club is looking into finding out the value of renovating the Saddledome compared to building brand new digs for the Flames.

The Saddledome underwent $37 million worth of renovations in 1995, and the resulting seating realignment outraged many season-ticket holders.

"We have a contract to explore dual paths -- one for the feasibility of a new building and one for a retrofit of the existing building -- so we can examine the options," King said.

"We just hired the same combination of firms to do both."

Cana Construction and architects Graham Edmunds Cartier have been given a multi-million-dollar budget by the Flames to table different options -- whether by retrofitting the Saddledome or building a new arena.

King called the venture a "significant investment" by the club.

"It's a responsible act on our part to look at both sides of it," said King, who calculated the cost of a state-of-the-art facility built from the ground up at more than $250 million.

"We want to find out what would it cost us to retrofit the building -- and is it even doable?" King said.

"We need to find out if the building can actually accommodate the kinds of changes we need."

Chief among reasons for a new or upgraded arena are enhanced revenue streams, since King and the Flames believe generating profit is severely limited playing out of the Saddledome.

At 22 years old, the club's current home is the seventh-oldest rink in the NHL.

"We need to keep up with the demands of Calgarians -- different cities have different buildings for different reasons," King said.

"What we really need to do is to understand the needs for Calgary -- for our team and for the people that use that building."

The Flames met yesterday with the firms and plan to hear back from them early in the new year.

The project calls for Cana and Graham Edmunds Cartier to hire estimators, architects and engineers to examine the process of renovations.

"What do you get at the end of the day?" King said.

"Sometimes, renovations can cost more at the end of the day, and how many operations can you do before you start to realize you should be building a new arena?"


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