Thursday, September 3, 2009

Will the Saddledome really be built downtown?

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Downtown Arena....or out to pasture?

On the heels of the Edmonton Oilers announcement that they are making progress in their plans for a new Downtown arena, the Calgary Flames garnered a front page story of their own this morning.

Calgary Flames president Ken King has been quietly championing a new arena for the Flames for a couple of years now. It now looks like all of the studies are done and they will be moving onto the next phase of securing a new arena! The Herald article speculates that both of the locations for the arena are on the Stampede Grounds: One being north of the existing site, while the other would be situated on the site of the "Big Four" building. ( What the heck is that thing used for now anyways?)

While building a new arena at the Stampede Grounds would be ideal ( and makes the most sense to me...) I am not sure that that is really the plan after all! Why? Maybe if you read into the line... " King wouldn't reveal the other location" ( the one North of the 'Dome was previously discussed.) you may speculate the reason.

If the " Big Four" site really were the location, why not disclose it? The building is an eyesore and no one ( except maybe the descendants of the Big Four) will miss it. What's the secret there? I think that maybe the fact that they have not confirmed it as a potential site says it all.

I do not think the Calgary Flames are building the new arena Downtown. I have heard rumours that it is going to be in Southeast Calgary, off Deerfoot Trail. ( South of 22X)

What? Before you roll your eyes and leave the site, lets look at the reasoning, just for fun!

1) The reason for building a new arena is solely an economic one.

The Flames can purchase a much bigger parcel of land in this undeveloped tract. Why would they want a big footprint? Perhaps they can build/incorporate the following into the plans:

  • Hotels/Casino
  • Shopping Area ( Perhaps a new mall to service the 150,000+ people who will live in the area in 10-15 years?
  • Other entertainment venues?

Why not...? If you look consider the economics, it makes a lot of sense.

Its hard to do that on a piece of land that the Calgary Stampede owns!

2) Who will drive all the way out there to go to a game?

This location is really not that far 5 years it will seem even closer. Plus, this project sits directly along the projected SE LRT Line. This arena might be what City Hall requires to kick start the construction of this portion! By the time the construction of the arena is done, the LRT may not be far behind. ( Plus...remember that Ottawa fans drive out of TOWN to go to the Senators games.)

I have heard this rumour constantly, but no one in the media seems to want to talk about it. It may be a crazy rumour, but if you really think about it, its not that unreasonable. I just cannot see how you can have two 20,000 seat arenas on the Stampede Grounds. Time will tell....

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  1. Ken King did say that if a new arena is built at Stampede, the 'Dome would have to be torn down or creatively re-purposed.

    I'd say the city has a vested interest in keeping it downtown. Higher taxes and a multi-function arena would attract the inner-city density this city needs.

  2. The Firestone Park off NW of Barlow and Memorial has also been talked about for years as a potential location.

  3. Thanks Q! I agree that for Civic reasons, it should stay DT. I am just trying to flush out the conversation as no one is talking about any other sites...

  4. I like the idea of moving it to the outskirts and developing the proper roadways to get in and out easily. I went to a Seattle Seahawks game where there was over 67,000 fans. The traffic was flowing so smooth I would say it took half the time to enter and exit than attending an event at the Saddledome. I have sat in traffic for 45 minutes to enter the grounds. If we are building a larger stadium to hold larger venues, traffic should be addressed.

  5. The traffic issue has to be addressed no matter where it goes. I also believe they should turn some of the lots down at the grounds into parkades. They do charge enough for parking that they would pay for them and parking up gives more room for improvments to the area.