Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Calgary Arena for NHL's Flames in Tense Limbo after Civic Election

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Calgary Arena for NHL's Flames in Tense Limbo after Civic Election

Article excerpt

Calgary arena in tense limbo after election

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CALGARY - The friction between the Calgary Flames and city council over a new arena shows no sign of abating with the re-election of Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

A new building for the NHL club became civic election fodder when Calgary Sports and Entertainment pulled out of "spectacularly unproductive" negotiations within days of Nenshi kicking off his campaign for a third term.

"As I've said for many, many weeks, the city has never left the table," Nenshi said after his victory speech Monday night.

"When they're ready to come back to the table and have a discussion understanding this mandate from Calgarians, we are ready and willing to have that discussion with them."

Flames president Ken King would not comment on the outcome of the election, a team spokesman said Tuesday.

An immediate renewal of arena talks seems unlikely, given the personal tone the issue took on.

Nenshi has one vote on council -- though his voice carries considerable influence as mayor. And it was his voice countering King's in the public back and forth over who should pay how much for the arena.

So the mayor has become the lightning rod for fears the team will move and leave Calgary bereft of an NHL team.

A month of subtle and not-so-subtle posturing on both sides culminated Monday with Flames media and communications director Sean Kelso stating in a tweet -- later deleted -- that Nenshi as mayor was "worse than Donald Trump being president" alongside hashtags "arrogant" and "bracefordisaster."

Flames vice-president of marketing Gordon Norrie urged people on his Twitter account Monday to vote for Nenshi's main rival Bill Smith.

CSEC said in a statement Tuesday that staff are entitled to their own opinions "and in fact it is their democratic right," but added "those individuals and opinions are not to be misinterpreted as representing the corporate position of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation."

All 10 incumbents running for council won their seats again with four newcomers coming from wards without an incumbent.

So the arena was controversy not enough to shake up city hall, and it remains to be seen where the two sides will find common ground to re-start talks. …

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