Flames Buy Stamps, Empire Grows
Since there isn’t really anything to talk about hockey-wise with the Flames at this point, it might be time to turn our attention to Calgary’s other team, the Stampeders. Of course it still concerns the Flames, as the team announced it has purchased a majority stake in the football team, with a 70% stake. The move adds to the Flames’ already impressive sports portfolio, which includes the WHL’s Hitmen and the NLL’s Roughnecks. I am a fan of this move for a couple of reasons and believe it will have a positive impact on not only the Stampeders, but also the city of Calgary.
The Flames ownership stake means two things for the Stamps; money and experience. NHL teams are giants compared to CFL teams, dwarfing them in every area other than player size, and the Stamps will now be able to benefit from the backing of their bigger brother. For players it means better transportation options between games, better team facilities, and a rock solid ownership group.
For fans and for the city, it may lead to something very exciting. It’s been no secret the Flames have been looking at a new arena for several years now. The smart money is that they’ll likely be moving into a new building by the 2015-2016 season; an arena that will most likely be downtown, either at the Stampede grounds or at another ‘undisclosed location.’
But the Stampeders are also in need of a new place to play, more so than the Flames. McMahon stadium is, quite simply, a dump. Concourses offer dark and dank passage past a series of 1970’s style concession stands that are almost completely exposed to the elements, making attending a game in October or November, less than ideal. Plus there is only one concourse, leaving thousands of fans forty or more rows up from the nearest concession or washroom, which as expected, are completely inadequate (and the only heated portion of the stadium). Of course there’s also the seating bowl and sight lines which also leave a lot of room for improvement.
So we all know a new building would be great. And with the Flames involvement, I think it might be more of a reality. Their larger and wealthier operation will be better equipped to arrange financing, to operate a facility and most importantly, ensure that it is filled more than nine or ten dates each year. Having both teams operated by the same group will allow for a more coordinated plan going forward and allow the two buildings to compliment each other opposed to having the two compete for the city’s attention and dollars.
From a fans perspective, the idea is win-win. Not only would fans of every team in town be treated to newer, better facilities, they’d also be the recipient of a new, downtown, entertainment district, with a football stadium and hockey arenas as the two anchor tenants.