Alberta says no to sports' subsidies

SHAWN LOGAN and RICK BELL, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

Hints that the feds could free up cash for new arenas are encouraging, says Flames boss Ken King.

But the team's president said any pitch for funding for a new facility for the NHL squad would have to wait until a plan is firmly in place.

"We're encouraged by what we're hearing but we've said all along that we would like to be gauged on the merits of any case we make at the time we make it," King said Thursday. "I don't want to get out in front of it -- we need to be fully prepared."

Earlier this week, federal Conservative MPs in Quebec left the impression that there may be money from Ottawa thrown in for a new $400 million arena planned in the province in hopes of landing an NHL franchise.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn't dismiss the possibility in Saskatoon on Thursday, noting that if federal cash is made available for one major city, similar deals would be made for others.

King said the lease on the Pengrowth Saddledome expires in 2014 so any new arena plans would have to be drafted long before then.

While the federal government seems to be considering loosening the pursestrings for major sports facilities, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach stuck to his guns that no provincial cash would be made available.

"There won't be any public money going to the arenas," he said. "We're prepared to provide infrastructure to buildings, with LRT and some of the other supporting infrastructure. But the building itself will be private sector."

With a civic election on tap for Oct. 18, King said the Flames have not been lobbying mayoral candidates for funding support for a new arena but will renew talks when a new mayor is elected.

"I don't think this is the kind of thing that should be bandied about as an election issue," he said.

"We'll have talks when whoever the new mayor is in place."


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