You know it’s not going to happen because Calgary is a good market for an NHL franchise and the whole executive of the Flames organization knows it. Brian Burke would be well served to keep his tongue wagging about hockey instead of what he thinks Calgarians need. There are enough marginalized hockey fans in Calgary obediently paying their income tax, their excise tax, their property tax, their GST, while transferring wealth toward some neighbour’s Child Tax Benefit payment in our socialized way of life that if you piss him off just a little bit more, he’s likely to just give you the finger and walk away from those season tickets.
Here in Calgary there’s been a destructive force working on city revenues, namely commercial property tax from an office sector which is staggering through vacancies in the downtown core. Consequently, the city has had to shift the tax burden outward and if you don’t think they’ll come for you out there in the burbs, think again once saddled (pardon the pun) with an enormous capital expenditure via one new unnecessary arena. We’ve become a people of want instead of need. We want to keep up with the Jones’. We want the upgraded BMW. We want to have a nicer arena just like our rivals because our ego is bruised when the competition comes to town and they know what we know about their nice place.
Income taxes went up in 2016. The top marginal rate is now 47 per cent and this is only of those pesky income taxes you get to pay. Yes, the rate grows incrementally until you get there, but it was supposed to be temporary to fund world war one. Then you and yours decided you needed an awful lot from your governments like sports arenas and a health care system that has doctors laughing at you for paying them so much. That’s okay. They laugh in private.
Here you are in a conundrum because your favourite musician is skipping the Saddledome because of some idiosyncrasy associated with this practical structure of strength seating some 17,000. Some beer glutton thinks he needs the extended bathroom that a new facility would provide ’cause he apparently can’t be entertained on anything less than a six pack of Molson’s best. Then there’s the “revenue model” referenced by the silver haired hockey has beens now execs sitting lofty in their glass enclosed perches claiming more from the parking, more from concession, and more from the city ’cause “we are the culture that Canada craves”.
I say no. I say call their bluff with a Bon Voyage to Quebec City – that market that couldn’t sustain the Nordiques back in the ’90’s. We know that the Stampede can pack the Saddledome for the first two weeks of July. For some reason acts still show up. The Hitmen and Roughnecks would retain their home turf while the Circus, the Cirque….and soccer could find fame from the departed Flame. Yes Soccer and the River Dance and more music with more dates on the calendar. There could be variety shows, acrobats, art shows and exhibits. A modernization of the Dome’s innards could accommodate for sets made to order. Figure skating competitions and showcases could return with frequency. Events representing human splendour and wonder could grace a stage tired from the moribund movement of a puck too many days out of the year. Your venue could be revived as a city centre piece for cultural reform with a return on investment actualized through solid management and imagination.