NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman listens after announcing the 2019 NHL Entry Draft will be held in Vancouver, during a news conference in Vancouver on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. Bettman says the Calgary Flames’ financial situation “continues to deteriorate” as the team continues to operate out of the aging Scotiabank Saddledome but maintained his position that he doesn’t foresee the situation changing soon.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Bettman: Calgary Flames’ financial situation ‘continues to deteriorate’

Bettman says the Calgary Flames’ financial situation “continues to deteriorate” due to aging Scotiabank Saddledome

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the Calgary Flames’ financial situation “continues to deteriorate” as the team continues to operate out of the aging Scotiabank Saddledome.

“This building, in its time, was a work of art. Its time is long past,” said Bettman, speaking to reporters in Calgary as part of his Western Canadian tour. “They don’t build buildings like this anymore.”

Bettman listed a lack of amenities for fans and players as well as opportunities for ownership to generate revenue among the many shortcomings of the building, which opened in 1983.

He said it simply doesn’t compare in any way to Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers, which opened up last season.

“Have you been up the road to Edmonton? Do you see a difference between the two buildings? You know the answer to the question.”

Bettman added that Calgary concert-goers are losing out too.

“I was told (Thursday) that there were 27 acts, some of them multiple days, that have played in Edmonton since the building opened that haven’t played here. That goes to the quality of life of the city and that’s an indication as to the differences in the buildings.”

While Bettman said he wasn’t in town to make threats, he painted a bleak picture of the Flames’ financial future if it continues to operate out of the NHL’s oldest building.

“The team’s competitive situation, financial stability, is obviously being impacted with each season that they stay here,” said Bettman. “They used to write a cheque for revenue sharing. For the last couple years, they have been receiving cheques. The cheques are getting bigger.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said the Flames’ proposal for a $500-million arena places a heavy tax burden on the city, but the Flames say the city’s plan would ultimately see the team foot the entire cost of construction.

Currently, neither side is talking with the team having said publicly that they have abandoned pursuit of a new building and that they will remain in the Saddledome, doing the best they can for as long as they can.

“Everything I’ve heard, (Calgary’s ownership group) sees no reason to have any discussions,” Bettman said, adding he agrees with the team’s position. ”They tried, they thought they were on a path, they actually had a proposal on something akin to Edmonton that would take a part of the city and transform it. A part of the city right now where the land is blighted and unusable, and ultimately nothing got any traction.”

Bettman was involved throughout the process in Edmonton, working with then Mayor Stephen Mandel and owner Daryl Katz in helping get the deal done. He has no such involvement in Calgary.

“You can’t dance unless you’re invited to the dance. I haven’t been invited to this dance,” said Bettman with a smile. “I can consult with the club, I can work with the club, we can discuss their situation, we can explore options — if and when — but there’s nothing really for me to do here.”

In other hockey matters, Bettman spoke about the successful season season-ticket drive that started in Seattle on Thursday. Deposits for the minimum 10,000 season tickets were received in 12 minutes. By the end of the first hour, they had reached 25,000 deposits.

“They have begun what looks like an amazing expression of interest,” said Bettman. “Obviously, that’s one of the many factors that we have to evaluate as we go through the expansion process.”

Related: Vancouver, Canucks to host 2019 NHL entry draft

He added that process is still in its infancy and there are still many steps to come for the Seattle ownership group.

“There are some boxes we have evaluate and check before the board gets anywhere close to having to make a decision.”

Bettman also touched on the NHL’s absence from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea, which he reiterated as a “good decision”, saying it won’t impact the league’s potential participation in 2022 in Beijing, China.

“I’m not going to predict what’s going to be in the future,” said Bettman. “While we’re very focused on helping to build the game of hockey in China, in Asia, I’m not sure whether, or if, participation in the 2022 Olympics is an essential or important part of that.”

The commissioner also expressed his satisfaction with the league’s current playoff format. Through the 1980s, 16 teams made the playoffs in what then was a 21-team league. The league is now 31 teams and the quantity of teams that make the post-season has not changed.

“The regular season is compelling, exciting, unpredictable and we have great races,” said Bettman. “We’re going to have teams that make or don’t make the playoffs by a point or two. I think what we’ve got now is pretty good and I believe most of the clubs feel the same way. “

Calgary is one of the teams in a playoff races. They sat one point out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 17 games to go heading into a Friday night game against the visiting New York Rangers.

Related: NHL needs to take action on hits to the head: former NHL goalie

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Peters Bros. recognized with provincial award

Penticton company wins Contractor of the Year Award

Oliver arena celebrates anniversary with Montreal Canadiens alumni game

Players have the chance to play with or against the Montreal Canadiens alumni

UPDATE: Sagmoen to stand trial

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

Man pulls out gun at Keremeos gas station

RCMP arrested an Olalla man around 10 a.m. Sunday after he pulled a gun earlier that morning.

Godsmack and Volbeat coming to Penticton

Tour includes a stop at the South Okanagan Events Centre

More snow to kick off the week

The Okanagan and Shuswap will see a light dusting of snow Monday night

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

Most Read