Calgary’s NHL team has skated into a different kind of arena, painting “I (heart) Oil & Gas” on the Scotiabank Saddledome’s ice surface.
The words were put there, for free, in two of the rink’s four corners as a show of support for Alberta’s energy industry.
Flames president and the head of the Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corp. said it was a no-brainer why they did it.
“Why do it? Why not?” John Bean said. “We do love Canadian oil and gas.
“Oil and gas right now in Canada is under attack and it shouldn’t be,” he added. “We should be standing up and be very proud. Technically and environmentally, we’re leaders, but somehow we’ve turned this into apologizing and we shouldn’t be apologizing.”
The familiar slogan has been seen on banners, stickers and clothing of the group Canada Action, which has been holding rallies in support of the oil and gas industry.
Canada Action founder Cody Battershill said the Flames recently reached out and offered to donate the on-ice space.
“I was surprised, so surprised,” Battershill said.
Canada Action said it sees nothing wrong with sports teams or any other group taking up their cause.
“This is a conversation that impacts every business, every restaurant, every small business,” Battershill said.
Flames fans that Global News spoke to said they don’t have a problem with the organization trying to score support for the energy sector.
“It’s our industry and we have to have all the attention drawn to it that we can,” longtime fan Ed Rehman said.
Global News also caught up with Chris Feist during a game of shinny.
“As a season-ticket holder, I think it’s time we start to communicate all the positives about our industry,” he said.
As for if the Flames, should the team be involved in promoting a specific industry — for free?
“It just makes good business sense,” Feist said. “If you look around the dome, who’s sponsoring all the suites — lawyers and oil and gas.
“This is where we live.”
Bean said the organization is not in the business of “cause marketing,” but added this time it was the right thing to do for the city, province and country.
“This isn’t oil and gas. This is our country we’re talking about. It’s our way of life,” Bean said.
“There are so many people in our city who have lost their jobs that are connected to the oil and gas industry, and it’s wrong.”
The Flames’ assist is getting top marks from users on many social media platforms, with many people applauding the team’s move.
Some fans have now called on other sports teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, to follow the Flames’ lead.