'We're not in politics': Calgary Flames president says arena talk not aimed at influencing election
Ken King speaks to sold-out gathering of local business community organized by Calgary Chamber
Calgary Flames president and CEO Ken King says the team wasn't trying to inject itself into local politics by announcing a month before the municipal election it had dropped plans for a new arena.
"We're not in politics," King told a business crowd during a Monday afternoon event organized by the Calgary Chamber.
"It is impertinent, imprudent and inappropriate for us to try to intercede on the political front."
King's speech came after he announced in mid-September that the Flames had dropped plans for a new arena to replace the Saddledome, after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the city.
That announcement came one day after incumbent mayoral candidate Naheed Nenshi announced his vision for a revitalization of the Victoria Park neighbourhood anchored by a new arena just north of the existing Saddledome site.
City council then voted to publicly release its previously confidential offer to the Flames for a new arena.
The team then also released its offer to the city.
Each side has characterized its own offer as generous and disputed the details of the other side's offer.
Flames not 'posturing,' King says
King reiterated the team's position on Monday but refused to answer specific questions from the moderator or the audience about a new arena during a question-and-answer session following his speech.
"We are no longer pursuing a new arena in Calgary with the City of Calgary," he said.
"And anyone who mocks that statement, suggesting it's posturing or part of the negotiation, doesn't know us very well."
King also spent much of his speech detailing what he described as the decline of the Calgary Flames, as a business.
He said the team used to be among the top 10 revenue-earning teams in the NHL who, under the league's revenue-sharing agreement, contribute funds to the lower-earning teams.
"We have now crossed the line. We are now receivers. We'll get a cheque this year. Isn't that ridiculous, in this beautiful market?" he said.
"And I can say, sadly, that we have crossed one of the remedies off the list, and that is the new facility. I honestly do not know where that part of the story is going to end."
Election in 3 weeks
Calgarians go to the polls in a municipal election on Oct. 16.
All 15 seats on city council are up for grabs.
Calgary's mayor and 14 city councillors all hold equal votes in city decision-making.
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