The Scotiabank Saddledome has been severely affected by the floodwaters.
Photograph by: Courtesy, Calgary Flames
Saturday, Calgary Flames president Ken King had talked about his team having access to the biggest water pumps in North America.
The bad news?
Unprecedented water levels in the Scotiabank Saddledome prevented their deployment.
But, by Sunday morning, those pumps were being put to use. Also, several contractors had managed to get on site, according to Flames president Ken King. By suppertime, water inside the rink was down a couple of feet.
Which is a significant development, but it is still a long way from allowing Flames officials to determine the extent of the damage.
The Flames’ recovery team regroups Monday morning.
Even Saturday, though, King had been optimistic.
“We’re going to be ready for the opening of the season.”
National Hockey League teams begin playing in three months. So, already, the Flames had been busy.
“Because of the plans that need to be put in place, and the authorizations that are necessary, we’re ready to go and we’re not waiting,” King said at McMahon Stadium. “We’re ordering everything, including hockey equipment, right now.”
The Flames, of course, are not the Saddledome’s lone tenants.
During the Calgary Stampede, an agricultural show is booked for the building — and, as of yet, not cancelled.
“That’s a move-in that’s nine days from now,” King said Saturday. “That may seem ludicrously ambitious, but this is Calgary.”
King added that he’d spoken to Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, whose club faced fallout from a flood during the spring of 2010.
“It was similar but not as serious situation (as the Flames’), and I asked him about their recovery plan,” he said. “And he said they had to work very hard in order to get ready for the first game of their season — and their problem occurred (in) May. So Libby (Raines, vice-president of building operations) and our group and all of our contractors have a full load of work to do.”
Acknowledging that he has been in touch with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, King said the topic of contingency scheduling was never discussed.
“It would be premature to deal with that now.”
King had been unable to quantify the damage. No dollar figures.
“None whatsoever — I can’t comprehend what it might be,” he said. “I went back in (Saturday) and it’s a mess. If you put (water as high as Row 8) into perspective . . . that means if you were a hockey player walking out of the tunnel out onto the ice, you would be under water yourself.
“It is a total loss on the event level. To the degree that it is greater than that, we do not know, obviously.”
Event level includes the ice plant and kitchens, all of the dressing rooms and coaches’ offices, not to mention the JumboTron nerve-centre, which features a couple of million dollars’ worth of high-tech gear.
King added that the JumboTron itself, which reportedly had been marooned at ice level during the flood, is in fact fine.
Beyond that, though, news is mostly bad.
“It’s a total loss,” he said. “There was nothing saved. All the mechanical equipment — including the equipment which drives our JumboTron equipment — is, at this moment, under about 15 feet of water and not salvageable, I assume.”
King had been asked if the flood damage affects — either by fast-tracking or delaying — the team’s plans for a new rink.
“I don’t think it affects it at all,” he replied. “We need to put the building back into service. In the event that we were to begin construction on a new building today, that’s probably a two-and-a-half to a three-year process, and you couldn’t partially put this building back into service waiting for that new building.”
Flames staffers who are unable to work from home will relocate to the Calgary Stampeders’ headquarters this week. (The Flames also own the Canadian Football League squad.)
“No one in the city anticipated the gravity of this flood,” said King. “Friday night, we were shocked and surprised when the flood came. It didn’t come as a surprise that it was coming, but the depth of the devastation was unbelievable. We prepared as best we could.”
In his opening remarks to reporters Saturday, King had pointed out that updates on the state of a hockey rink are trumped by the welfare of those who have been truly impacted by the disaster.
“Firstly, I would like — on behalf of our organization and all of our sports organizations — to express great sympathy for the loss of life to those people had that great tragedy and to everyone in this city who’s facing many, many more challenges than we are down at the Saddledome,” said King. “Ours is a piece a real estate, a building, but many people’s lives have been dramatically altered here. I want to express our heartfelt sympathy and out-reach to those people.”
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald