Speaking to media in Edmonton on Tuesday, Gary Bettman had something to say about the city of Calgary.
“Calgary obviously needs a new arena and hopefully [Edmonton’s new arena, Rogers Place] is inspirational,” Bettman said.
If there’s one thing we have learned about Bettman in his time as NHL commissioner, it’s that he doesn’t say anything without a purpose. He’s a lawyer by trade, and by nature.
On Wednesday, Bettman sashayed into town like Lyle Lanley, looking for the government to pony up for a new monorail.
Bettman’s visit to Calgary reportedly included a meeting with Flames president and CEO Ken King, who has been pushing for a new arena/sports complex called CalgaryNEXT. Bettman also said he may meet with city officials during his trip.
Speaking with local media, Bettman described the Scotiabank Saddledome as an “old, antiquated, inefficient building.”
The home of the Flames is now over 33 years old, which will soon make it the second-oldest arena in the NHL when Joe Louis Arena hosts its last game this season. More than that, the Saddledome was built without many of the modern additions that arenas built after the 1990s had.
The arena was renovated in the mid-1990s, which helped to modernize it, but clearly the Saddledome is not at the level of Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Will a new arena be built? As with most arena projects, that will depend on political will.
Until then, not a bad strategy for Bettman to pit Calgary and Edmonton against each other.