The Calgary Flames may have broken off talks with the city for a new NHL arena, but in releasing the city’s proposal on how to pay for a new $555-million rink Friday morning, Mayor Naheed Nenshi says a new arena is not necessary for a 2026 Olympic bid.
Instead, he pointed to Rogers Place in Edmonton.
“The simplest one is: there’s a nice new arena three hours up the road.”
WATCH: Ken King responds to Calgary Mayor Naheed Neshi’s idea to use other Canadian cities to host Olympic events without new arena.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in May there hadn’t been any official talks between the two cities, but “informally” he’d heard about many different possibilities and wanted to keep lines of communication open. He said the federal government has “lots of options on its plate.”
Iveson’s communications director said Friday he does not plan to weigh in on Calgary arena talks out of respect to his mayoral colleague and ongoing negotiations.
Watch below from May 2: Alberta’s two largest cities have always been in competition with one another but now, some are asking if Edmonton and Calgary should come together to host one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world. Emily Mertz has more on why so many Albertans are talking about the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Nenshi went on to say Friday that he prefers a more complicated Olympic option, citing soccer tournaments in previous Summer Games in which teams played in stadiums across Brazil “without ever stepping foot in Rio.”
“I think that would actually be a really cool thing, regardless, for the Olympics, to have Olympic hockey (women’s and men’s) played in rinks around the country and bring everyone into that Olympic spirit and do the finals here. So there’s lots of ways to do it.
“The new arena bid makes an Olympic bid much easier, but it is not necessary.”
Canada’s minister of sport said Thursday he doesn’t see a role for the federal government in the quest for a new arena, even in a mediation capacity.
Kent Hehr, Calgary’s representative in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, said he understands the importance of the team to the city and was “certain the municipal government has the ability and skills to deal with this at the local level.”
“Mr. King and Mr. Nenshi are both very capable, honourable people who are going to continue, hopefully, to work together for a long, long time.”
For comparison, here’s a list of other NHL rinks in Canada including ownership, capacity and cost:
With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Ted Bauer