Heavy rains in southern Alberta, exacerbated by snow melt from the Rocky Mountains, has caused the Bow River and the Elbow River to overflow their banks, putting several locations into a state of emergency around the province.
In Calgary, where the downtown core is located at the confluence of those two rivers, virtually the entire downtown area was flooded, including the Stampede Grounds in the southeast corner of the core. The Scotiabank Saddledome is situated right next to the Elbow River on the Stampede Grounds.
The Saddledome was flooded to at least the eighth row of the lower bowl, filling the building almost a third of the way with flood waters. The basement of the arena is expected to be a total loss, including dressing rooms, the media lounge, all the ice-making and maintenance equipment, and the Jumbotron's control room.
This all potentially puts in jeopardy the status of the Saddledome for the next NHL season, which begins in October.
However, said Flames President and CEO Ken King, via NHL.com:
We had a recovery action plan put in place immediately. Our executive group met this morning and went through a number of tasks as you can expect, including everything from dealing with our staff communication, to shareholder communication, stakeholder communication and what we are going to do to recover this building as quick as possible.
We're going to be ready for the opening of the season.
In fact, plans to have the 'Dome open for business for the start of the Calgary Stampede, which opens on July 5, are already in the works.
Said King, again via NHL.com:
"That's a move-in that is nine days from now. That may seem ludicrously ambitious but this is Calgary. Libby (Raines - Vice President of Building Operations) and her group and the staff charged with that are going to try to move heaven and Earth to try to do it."
It may yet be days before the rivers have receded and power is restored to the Saddledome, which means further delays on assessing damage and beginning repairs. In any event, it seems clear that Flames management is determined to do what it takes to get things back in order as quickly as possible.
One way or another, the Calgary Flames will be playing at the Scotiabank Saddledome when the season begins in the fall.
Follow me on Twitter @calgaryjimbo. I'll be continuing to tweet updates on the flood and relief efforts as I see them.
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