LiveWire lookback: Calgary in 1989, our Stanley Cup winning year

The Calgary Flames begin their Stanley Cup journey for 2019 with a series against the Colorado Avalanche

Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund scored one in a 5-3 win over the Avalanche. JEFF MCINTOSH / CANADIAN PRESS

As the Calgary Flames embark on most promising playoff run since 1989, a look back at the city 30 years ago. Is the spirit of 1989 alive in Calgary?

Exactly 30 years since their first and only Stanley Cup in 1988-89, the Calgary Flames are entering the playoffs with their most promising regular-season team since those glory days. They have the best record in the Western Conference for the first time since 1989-90.

Younger Flames fans may have the 2004 near-miss in their memories, but LiveWire Calgary decided to look back at Calgary as it was in April 1989 – the dawn of the Flames’ only championship run.

In April 1989…

  • Similar to this season, the start of the playoffs coincided with a provincial election. Premier Don Getty had just been re-elected on March 20, 1989, but lost his own seat. Calgary Mayor Ralph Klein had just resigned after being elected a Progressive Conservative MLA in Calgary-Elbow.
    • The Alberta NDP won two seats in Calgary that election, which they would not do so again until taking power in 2015 – coincidentally, also the last time the Flames advanced past the first round.
  • The City of Calgary began annexing part of Rocky View County, but the communities of Royal Oak and Rocky Ridge, among others, were just gleams in developers’ eyes.
  • The City of Calgary’s population was 671,138 in 1989.
    • The province estimated that the city would grow by 4,000 people a year for the next 30 years, giving it about a 791,000 population in 2019, while the city estimated it would grow 11,000 a year, giving it 1.1 million. The city was closer, but still conservative: Calgary’s 2018 population was just over 1.2 million.
  • The Petro-Canada Centre, now the Suncor Centre, was the tallest skyscraper in downtown at 215 m, having surpassed the Calgary Tower five years prior.
    • Bankers Hall East was also being completed.
  • Before the Red Mile, Electric Avenue was the party destination for Flames fans. Two bars at the former site (11 Ave) are paying tribute this year.
  • The average price of a home was $109,406 (about $201,000 in 2019 dollars.)
  • The city and province agreed on a $26.6 million deal with developers to secure Nose Hill Park for Calgary.
  • The CTrain had been extended to the University of Calgary and McMahon Stadium, but would not be extended to Brentwood for another year.
  • Stampede Wrestling was in its final year of weekly broadcasts by Ed Whalen, attracting around 54,000 viewers per broadcast.
  • In other local sports news, the week the Flames began their playoff run, 19-year-old would-be Calgary Cannons star Ken Griffey Jr. skipped the minors and was promoted directly to the Seattle Mariners. Griffey Jr. was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2016.
  • Top movies the two weekends leading into the 1989 playoffs: Rain Man and Major League (* U.S. box office figures, March 31-April 13, 1989, BoxOfficeMojo.com).
  • The Billboard 100 top songs in 1989 (at year end) were: Lookaway, by Chicago, My Prerogative, Bobby Brown, Every Rose has its Thorn, by Poison, and Straight Up, Paula Abdul

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