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Calgary Flames CEO asks city for media silence during possible arena talks

The Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president and CEO Ken King says if arena talks were to take place with the city, he would want media silence, and a Calgary city councillor says it’s not an absurd request.

Coun. Jeff Davison, who sits on the new Event Centre Assessment Committee, said letters exchanged between the committee and King are a good first step, but there’s still a long way to go.

“It’s great,” said Davison. “We can have a conversation. We’ve still got a bunch of work to do before we can get to a conversation.”

In a letter dated May 31, Davison invited King to a “new round of conversation to assess the topic of Calgary’s new event centre together.”

King’s response dated June 4 says Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC), the group that owns the Flames, would never decline a formal request for a meeting, but that he has concerns based on “past practice.”

King says if they are to proceed, “a simple and pre-emptive imperative is media silence.”

A letter from Ken King to the city dated June 4.

King adds that media involvement can only be allowed in the event of an agreement.

Davison had his own interpretation of that request.

“I don’t think he’s asking for non-stop media silence,” said the Ward 6 councillor. “I think what he’s asking for is when it comes to negotiating, if we get to a deal point we’re not doing it in front of the media. And I agree with him.”

Both CSEC and the City of Calgary went to the media with offers they claimed were made around the negotiating table after talks broke down last fall.

Davison said the committee which was formed at the end of May, and does not include Mayor Naheed Nenshi as a sitting member, still has much work to do around setting terms of reference and guiding principles before it could even sit down at the table with King and CSEC.

“Once that all happens and we’ve got some more plain language we can mark our own goal posts,” said Davison.