Nenshi and Bettman don't quite see eye-to-eye on new Flames arena
Mayor says taxpayers have been clear they don't want to pay for a new stadium
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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met with Mayor Naheed Nenshi earlier this week, and the two had a “cordial and candid discussion of different views.”
Nenshi said Bettman made the offer to be a facilitator between the city and the Flames on the topic of a new arena.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure it would be all that helpful,” said the mayor. “I told him if we need him, we’ll call him.”
Bettman was in town to boost the idea of a new arena for the Calgary Flames.
The commissioner spoke at a Calgary luncheon on Wednesday, where he praised Edmonton’s Rogers Place arena, and took a swipe at the Saddledome.
"No knock on (the Saddledome), but it’s old, and the ways these buildings get built has changed dramatically since this one was built back in the early 80s," said Bettman.
The city has said unequivocally that the Flames original proposal for the city’s West Village, CalgaryNEXT, is not the best option.
Instead they’ve been promoting a “Plan B” which would involve an area near the current Saddledome in Victoria Park.
Nenshi said no matter where the arena might go, he’s heard loud and clear from Calgarians that they don’t want their tax dollars funding the project.
“It’s interesting that the calls to our office – and the emails – have been 99.99997 per cent saying, ‘Please Mr. Bettman, stay out of this,’ and ‘No, there should be no public money for this.’”
Nevertheless, he left the door open for some sort of contribution from the city
“Public money must be spent for public benefit. If we can figure out a way there’s public benefit, in an interesting project in Victoria Park, we’ll take that to the citizens and see what they think,” he said.