August 20, 2006
Calgary fans cool to suite ideaTaking out 'Dome seats not first choice of longtime Flames ticket holders
By SHAWN LOGAN -- Calgary Suun
Rumblings the Saddledome could be in for renovations has some longtime Flames season-ticket holders concerned they may be relocated to make room for luxury suites.
The home of the Calgary Flames underwent a $37-million makeover in 1995 -- which added 46 suites and 1,440 premium seats in the President's Club -- but left some fans disheartened as they were moved to make room for the additions.
With the Flames mulling whether to give a facelift to the 22-year-old arena or build a new facility, the team's supporters are worried either option could come with a painful price tag.
Dan Fantini has been a season-ticket holder since the Flames came to Calgary in 1980. He fears a repeat of the upheaval of 1995 that saw him forced to move to new seats and worries ticket prices may soar to pay for either option.
"If we get moved again, we'll probably still be season-ticket holders but I hope they don't go about it the same way," said Fantini, who figures he has missed 10 games in 25 years the Flames have been in Calgary. "We're just normal working people, and if prices go up much more, well, we're just diehards to a point."
The Flames have hired consultants to price out both options and determine if a Saddledome retrofit would be able to accommodate the changes needed to boost the building's revenue streams.
A new state-of-the-art facility, meanwhile, would cost in the neighbourhood of $250 million.
Kim "Santa" Thomas has also held season tickets since the Flames' inception, but accepts the team has to boost its revenue to compete in a more competitive NHL.
Thomas said he worries that throwing in more luxury suites, while adding potential profit, may take away from the atmosphere in what is now the seventh-oldest building in the league.
"I understand where they're coming from -- they obviously got to have some way to generate revenue... It'll change the dynamic of the building -- there will be more suites but it will be taking away seats from the average fan."