State of the Nation
Flames prez frank about future
RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media
Fans invest heavily in the Calgary Flames.
They give their money.
They surrender their time.
They entrust their emotions.
Are they happy? Do Flames fans receive enough in return for those dollars, moments, and that love?
Among the myriad duties president Ken King has in his portfolio, he must monitor the satisfaction of the Flaming C faithful.
King's accessibility to fans -- whether or not they are season-ticket holders -- gives him the pulse.
You can't swing a cat in this city without hitting somebody who was at a breakfast, luncheon or dinner King spoke at.
His e-mail address is easy to find -- hint, check the club's website -- and he's known for responding to those messages.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs head to the home stretch, NHL teams are already looking at what they can do better on the ice for the coming season.
Make no mistake, clubs are pondering what improvements they can make off the ice, too.
A few weeks ago, the annual ESPN Fan Satisfaction Rankings had the Flames sitting 54th among all 122 major North American franchises, based on categories such as bang for the buck, fan relations, ownership, affordability, stadium experience, players, coaching/management and success.
The good news was the Flames were ahead of all but one Canadian-based NHL team (Ottawa was 29th).
The bad news was the Flames fell 16 spots from their 2007 ranking, the big knocks being affordability and bang for the buck.
King admitted the data goes into the "large hopper" and "it would have a place" but refused to comment on it, not even to take credit for the No. 15 ranking for fan relations.
"I can't respond to the good any more than I can to the bad," he said.
"It would be inappropriate for me to take a bow for the positive aspects of it -- I don't consider 15 to be very positive, by the way -- than it would be for me to pooh-pooh the negative."
Still, King was willing to sit down and discuss the state of the team, including the plans for a new arena, ticket costs and more.