Gary Bettman's push for CalgaryNext has locals hot under the collar

The NHL commissioner's heated conversation Tuesday morning on the Calgary Eyeopener did not sit well with some of our listeners.

NHL commissioner was ‘being rude and unreasonable,’ tweets Calgary Eyeopener listener

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says the Flames 'long-term stability will be threatened' if they continue to play in the oldest arena in the league. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press)

It didn't take long for the tweets to start flying after Gary Bettman was interviewed about the CalgaryNext arena project Tuesday morning on CBC Radio.

Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray asked the NHL commissioner why Calgary taxpayers should help foot the bill for a private, for-profit hockey team.

"The Flames ownership includes Alvin Libin, Allan Markin, Jeff McCaig, Clay Riddell, Murray Edwards — many of the richest individuals in our community," said Gray. "Why should they get taxpayers subsidies?"

Bettman skirted around the question and started to list off the charitable donations made by the Flames Foundation.

David Gray is the host of the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. (CBC)

Gray jumped in. 

"We're not talking about the charity side of the Flames, we're talking about the profitable side of the Flames."

"Hello? Are you interrupting me?" said Bettman. "It would really be easier for me to explain it if you weren't interrupting me."

Gray went on to ask him if the Calgary Flames were currently a profitable business.

"I don't comment on clubs' economics and frankly the question is irrelevant to the discussion we're having," Bettman said.

"Why is it irrelevant?" asked Gray.

"Because we're talking about an arena and stadium and infrastructure project," said Bettman.

"We're not talking about the Flames. I will tell you though, their long-term stability will be threatened if in fact they continue to play in the oldest arena in the league," said Bettman.

During an interview about the CalgaryNext arena project, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman asked Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray to not interrupt him when he's talking. 3:29

Gray kept the interview on track — and Calgary Eyeopener listeners noticed.

"Thank you for not letting Bettman run the show. He made my blood boil during/after that interview," Alisha Coombes wrote in an email.

"I am so appreciative of you holding him to your questions when he blatantly avoids them. He is a bully and very condescending.  Keep him honest with our community and push for the truth."

 

When asked about Bettman's visit to Calgary on Monday, Mayor Nenshi said he was busy with council and had advised the NHL commissioner that a meeting was probably not worth the time unless Bettman had new information.

"Perhaps in other cities that he has come to the city councils have just written cheques based on back of the napkin proposals without any consultation to the public or without any analysis. That's not how we operate here," said Nenshi.

"I know that Calgarians require very wealthy people from New York to come and tell us what we need to do in our community because they understand vibrancy better than we do."

Calgary's mayor wasn't pulling any punches today in reaction to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's comments about a new arena. 1:07

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