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Move the Calgary Flames? Not a chance -- history and tradition are at stake

A deal will be done. Edmonton now has its deal, and the old Northlands Coliseum is to be shuttered. Calgary's deal is not far behind, writes Perry King.

There has been a lot of talk about a hefty arena deal (costing an estimated $500 million) that fell through this week between the city and the Flames’ ownership group.

File / Metro Order this photo

There has been a lot of talk about a hefty arena deal (costing an estimated $500 million) that fell through this week between the city and the Flames’ ownership group.

There’s no way Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) douses the Flames and moves to Seattle.

There has been a lot of talk about a hefty arena deal (costing an estimated $500 million) that fell through this week between the city and the Flames’ ownership group.

The drama has received national sports attention, with two scintillating nuggets getting people talking. One, Flames’ ownership announced Wednesday that they're no longer pursuing an arena deal in Calgary.

"It doesn't look like we're going to get there and I think it's time that we stop pretending," CSEC president and CEO Ken King told reporters on Tuesday.

Two, Canadian Press has reported that a proposal to remodel Seattle’s KeyArena, once home to the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics before they moved years ago, has an aggressive timeline that could house professional sports, including hockey, as soon as 2020.

KeyArena, a publicly-owned, privately-financed project has the attention of King, but rest assured, the reality of a move to Seattle is far outweighed by the work already done to keep the Flames burning in Calgary.

A deal in Calgary will be made. This is a serious matter to the community. History and tradition are at stake.

King’s pronouncement, and his eyes on Seattle, can be interpreted as a pressure tactic. In Edmonton, Metro reported that the Oilers’ ownership entertained the thought of a Seattle move, and even visited Seattle several years ago to inquire. Many in Edmonton city council, including then-councillor Kerry Diotte, thought it was just a bluff.

“This is exactly the kind of thing Mario Lemieux did in Pittsburgh… and he admitted later that it’s all just to crank up the pressure,” Diotte told Metro. “(But) it’s not helpful,” he added.

Rather than grandstanding, King should know that both sides aren't far apart on the specifics.

Arena talks broke down, according to sources, around a possible revenue arrangement. The reported 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 model — where the City of Calgary would provide 1/3 of the upfront cost for the new arena, 1/3 would be recouped through a ticket surcharge and 1/3 would come from the Calgary Flames ownership — is a negotiable and sensible model.

The only hurdle now lies in creating a suite of finer details (read: incentives) that show significant compromise between the two parties.

After all, King knows more than anyone that the Flames are an economic powerhouse in Calgary. And Mayor Naheed Nenshi has pegged the Flames as part of his big vision for local redevelopment.

Equally, King likely knows that plopping down his franchise in Seattle — where there is no automatic fan base, revered tradition, and is in competitive conflict with the nearby Vancouver Canucks — is more risky than staying put.

And so, a deal will be done. Edmonton now has its deal, and the old Northlands Coliseum is to be shuttered. Calgary's deal is not far behind.

And besides: The Seattle Flames? It doesn’t roll off the tongue.

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